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Aug-14-2010 15:42printcommentsVideo

Is there a 'Peoples' Solution' to Wrongful Convictions in Oregon?

The shortest and quickest route to justice here is to demand that Governors exercise their Constitutional duties.

Wrongly convicted inmate Terrence Kimjble in Oregon
Photo credits: State of Oregon, Tim King, Lt. Janet Arencibia, US Navy

(EUGENE, Ore.) - All I can say is that there is already a "solution" to wrongful convictions, which is the authority of the Governor to pardon wrongfully convicted individuals, completely superseding the entire judiciary, even the Supreme Court of the U.S. (for State convictions, not for Federal).

Governors in general, and certainly in Oregon, have abdicated their Constitutional duties and responsibilities in this area.

In order to appropriately execute their Constitutional duties, Governors have a duty to maintain a staff that accepts petitions from convicts, promptly investigates them, and issues pardons and commutations in a timely manor that renders justice to the falsely convicted.

As far as I can tell, this does not happen.

The U.S. Presidents have a long record of selling pardons and commutations, as well as using them to free their co-conspirators in crimes, and they throw in some feel-good pardons in order to pad the press releases for this activity.

Oregon Governor Ted Kulongoski

Pardons by Oregon governors are even more rare. According to WW, Kitzhaber gave only 4 pardons in 8 years, and Kulongoski gave 6 during the first 4.5 years of his term[1].

All of these pardons are for people who unquestionably committed crimes.

What can be seen then is that the past two Governors are adhering to a very narrow and unconstitutional interpretation of their Constitutional authority, which I would wager good money is prevalent in esteemed legal circles. This would be the idea that pardons are not to be used to review the conduct of the judiciary, but only to overturn proper convictions when exigent circumstances (press, bribes, etc.) make this desirable.

The limitation of pardons to cases where guilt is undisputed is clearly contrary to the Constitutional scheme and history of law. The authority of the President/Governor is, as a matter of historical legal evolution, derived from the authority of monarchs. Under the monarchical system, the king maintained Courts of Equity that had the power to override civil courts in order to provide justice.

The Constitutional arrangement of giving the authority of pardon to elected executives is clearly derived from this historical tradition, and is meant in the same way to provide a safeguard against corruption and incompetence in the courts. (On a side note, courts of equity existed in the U.S. until the beginning of the 20th century.)

The placement of authority to grant clemency to convicts in the hands of the executive also reflects the Constitutional design, which makes the executive ultimately responsible for all of the acts of the State.

Governor Ted Kulongoski and's Tim King

The executive has the authority to override both the legislative and judiciary branches with vetos and pardons.

This design has the purposeful intent of making the executive the person who is ultimately responsible for all of the conduct of the State.

Once again, this system evolved out of monarchy, and the executive in this system holds the place of a monarch in the old system, but with explicit Constitutional constraints on their authority.

There is already a well established law in place for giving justice in cases of wrongful convictions. Governors have chosen to abdicate their Constitutional duties, which renders the law ineffective.

Since the Constitution already envisions and deals with the problem of wrongful convictions, and yet has been willfully subverted, I do not personally see how any new Constitutional innovations would remedy this problem.

The shortest and quickest route to justice here is to demand that Governors exercise their Constitutional duties. If you cannot force them to do that, then you are unlikely to make much headway in reform by other routes, although that is just my opinion.

[1] Jackpot -A bar owner who sold coke and a mom who sold meth are two of the lucky few to get a pardon from the governor -

This is the story in question, the conviction of Terrence Kimble:


=================================== Business/Economy Reporter Ersun Warncke is a native Oregonian. He has a degree in Economics from Portland State University and studied Law at University of Oregon. At a young age, his career spans a wide variety of fields, from fast food, to union labor, to computer programming. He has published works concerning economics, business, government, and media on blogs for several years. He currently works as an independent software designer specializing in web based applications, open source software, and peer-to-peer (P2P) applications.

Ersun describes his writing as being "in the language of the boardroom from the perspective of the shop floor." He adds that "he has no education in journalism other than reading Hunter S. Thompson." But along with life comes the real experience that indeed creates quality writers. Right now, every detail that can help the general public get ahead in life financially, is of paramount importance.

You can write to Ersun at:

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Cindy March 10, 2011 3:42 pm (Pacific time)

Obviously research of the wrongly convicted has not been done. It's pathetic to see the stats on people in prisons across the US who have had to plea their case due to a corrupt system. But they must be guilty if the plea bargained, right?? Check out the facts on child molestation cases and what it takes for an innocent person to fight the charges only to be railroaded and labeled for life..Because a parent wants to win the child and prevent the other parent from having a relationship with the child out of anger or spite. See how often this happens and how easy it is to coerce a child to fabricate a story and the so called specialist, social service workers, child advocates, procecutors and judges keep it going for the point of re-election. They care not about justice, nor do they care about the child who has been convinced of a molestation that never took place. All they need is the word of the child, no other evidence is needed. The public doesn't or won't believe a child would lie about something so serious. Guess again. The jury is faced with a defendant and 12 charges, they then feel obligated to convict on at least 1 due to ignorance of how the system really functions. Guilty until proven innocent. Beyond a reasonable doubt..Hopefully you never have to wear those shoes. As a nation, we the people, need to change the system for the people.

Ramey August 15, 2010 2:29 pm (Pacific time)

Ty Grayfeather I'm trying to get at what you are actually saying. Is it your opinion that America treats their native people better than the Canadian government does? Is it your view that we have the best legal system, but it is also unfair to just native people or all people? Speaking from my experience in the legal system, which was in divorce court while I also seeked custody of my children. Well the system is certainly not fair for males, regardless of racial background from what data I've seen. Fortunately I have not had to deal with the criminal justice system, but over the years I have gotten my share of grief and insulting behavior from police during traffic stops, and during various social situations in my youth (parties). The issuance of a "pardon" should be based on either a grave injustice, or a significant rehab took place. When I recall Clinton giving a pardon to Mark Rich, it just cheapens what a pardon should be for. But what more could you expect from a person who lies under oath and still has no sense of wrong doing on his part, much less any showing of contrition. Pardons need to be rare events, a redress of grievences for judicial/prosectorial/police misconduct should be better funded so laypeople can pursue this rather than having to put down big bucks to a lawyer to pursue what everyone should be able to do as a matter of right. I don't expect any changes to be coming anytime soon though.

Ty Grayfeather August 15, 2010 7:23 am (Pacific time)

Amanda how do you compare our system to your home country Canada? Have you seen recent interviews with the indigenous peoples of Canada about their perceived treatment by that legal system? Compare and contrast with America's indigenous population, of which I am a member. Though there are problems with our justice system here, much of it coming from lower court judges who are getting overturned with regularity, which shows more are being picked for political reasons, not their judicial abilities, there still is not a system that is even remotely close to being as fair. Though I expect many to disagree with that, but I will stand by that informed opinion.

Amanda August 14, 2010 11:24 pm (Pacific time)

From the Governor, to the judciary, law enforcement and social service agencies, who give a hoot about an individuals Constitutional Rights. Each makes their own rules and regulations to fit their ego and preserve control and power. Not even the elderly citizen is immune from the tyranny, abuse and exploitation by the system God bless America!! Indeed.

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Sean Flynn was a photojournalist in Vietnam, taken captive in 1970 in Cambodia and never seen again.