Today's Arizona Republic reports, "Details in clemency inquiry emerge," by Craig Harris.
Recently departed state Board of Executive Clemency chief Jesse Hernandez unsuccessfully tried to help shorten the prison sentence of NBA superstar Amar’e Stoudemire’s half brother after Hernandez had established a relationship with the one-time Phoenix Suns player, public records show.
Documents obtained Thursday by The Arizona Republic show that Hernandez voted on Aug. 12 in favor of moving Stoudemire’s relative, Marwan Williams, through a process that would grant him an early release from prison. The vote came just four days before Hernandez resigned amid substantiated claims of misconduct.
Williams was not moved to the next level of commutation, however, because Hernandez was the lone Clemency Board member to vote to help him. Two other members voted against the move, resulting in a final vote of 2-1.
Williams is serving a sentence of more than nine years for his involvement in a botched 2007 armed robbery that turned deadly. He must wait two more years before he can again seek a sentence commutation.
Hernandez suddenly quit last week after a state investigation found nine cases of inappropriate behavior, including not holding hearings in accordance with relevant state laws and policies. The investigation also concluded that Hernandez gave an unqualified female employee he was dating a promotion and a $21,340 pay raise and that he ogled women as they walked by.
The Attorney General’s Office has not been asked to examine whether any crimes were committed, said Stephanie Grisham, a spokeswoman for the office.
Gov. Jan Brewer, who has made personnel reform a priority of her administration, named Hernandez executive director and board chairman last year despite his not having any criminal-justice experience.
A redacted version of the Arizona Department of Administration investigation report is available via Scribd.
"Ariz. death row inmate's lawyer cites changes at clemency board in request to delay execution," is the AP report, via the Tribune.
A lawyer for Arizona death row inmate Edward Schad cites uncertainties about the state Board of Executive Clemency as a reason to not schedule an execution for Schad.
Attorney Denise Young's filing on behalf of Schad says it's not clear he could get a fair clemency hearing because of what the motion calls troubling events concerning the clemency board.
The five-member board now has two vacancies, one from the resignation of the chairman and executive director amid administrative investigations, including one that found inappropriate behavior.
The state Supreme Court is scheduled Tuesday to consider the state's requests for execution warrants for Schad and death row inmate Robert Jones.
Yesterday's Republic coverage was, "State clemency-board chief quit amid wide range of misconduct allegations," also written by Craig Harris.
Jesse Hernandez, the ex-chairman and director of the state Board of Executive Clemency, suddenly quit last week after an investigation found nine cases of inappropriate behavior, including giving an unqualified female employee he was dating a promotion and a $21,340 pay raise, records obtained by The Arizona Republic show.
The Republic acquired heavily redacted documents through the Arizona Public Records Law on Wednesday after Gov. Jan Brewer’s office refused to explain why Hernandez abruptly quit Aug. 16.
Brewer appointed Hernandez, a Republican political operative, to the post last year even though he had no experience in corrections or criminal justice, according to his resume. Messages left on his cellphone were not returned.
The five-member clemency board considers parole for eligible inmates and recommends certain clemency actions to the governor, who appoints board members. Brewer last year sacked the prior board chairman, who had 20 years of experience, and two other board members in favor of Hernandez and two other new appointees.
One of the new appointees also quit recently and said another state probe is under way to determine whether Hernandez shorted the pay of other board members.
An Arizona Department of Administration investigation was launched after a May 16 complaint against Hernandez was filed by an employee who alleged retaliation and discrimination. The subsequent probe examined a dozen allegations of misconduct. Nine were substantiated.
Hernandez did not hold public hearings in accordance with state law and policies, and he treated clemency-board members and visitors inappropriately.
Board members were not allowed to review their recommendations before they were submitted to the Governor’s Office. Instead, the letters were edited and the board members’ names were stamped on the letters.
Phoenix New Times coverage is, "Jesse Hernandez, Ex-Chair of AZ Executive Clemency Board, Gave Improper Raise to Girlfriend, Report States," by Ray Stern.
Hernandez, a GOP consultant who heads a Hispanic group that supports SB1070, was one of three new members Governor Jan Brewer appointed last year. The appointments followed the firing of three of the five board members, who Brewer apparently felt might be prone to give clemency to inmates.
As New Times reported this morning, Hernandez' departure came more than a week after the resignation of another of Brewer's handpicked, new members, Mel Thomas. His resignation letter stated he "could no longer endure the way me and my fellow board members have been treated."
A source told us yesterday that Thomas had been referring to Hernandez.
Earlier coverage of the Arizona clemency board scandal begins at the link.