Like it or not, pardons issued by former Governor Haley Barbour are valid. That's the ruling of the Mississippi Supreme Court.
In their opinion, the justices wrote, "We are compelled to hold that, in each of the cases before us, it fell to the governor alone to decide whether the constitution's publication requirement was met." It was a 6-3 opinion.
"Kind of took the wind out of my sails for a few minutes."
That's how Randy Walker says he felt when he heard of the Supreme Court's 6-3 opinion.
Walker said, "I'm proud of those 3. I think the other six did what was political and not what was right for the people of Mississippi."
Walker survived a gunshot wound to the head by David Gatlin, who also shot and killed his estranged wife as she held their baby. Gatlin, a trusty in the governor's mansion, was one of 198 people pardoned by outgoing Republican governor Haley Barbour. Ten of those pardoned were incarcerated at the time, including Katherine Robertson, represented by Jackson attorney John Colette.
Colette said, "The court's right, this was purely a legal issue. Don't get caught in this political spin of one party against the other; the spin as far as letting murderers and rapists go free."
Hattiesburg attorney Tom Fortner, who argued before the justices in behalf of four of those pardoned, had this reaction:
Said Fortner, "While I'm pleased with the decision, I truly understand that a lot of people are going to be hurt or fell hurt by this decision and I'm sorry for that. I can't put myself in their shoes. I don't know how they feel. I can tell you that my four clients have never expressed ill will or bad feelings toward anyone involved in any of these cases. They are not gloating about this. I think they are pleased and relieved."
Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood, a Democrat, persuaded a lower court judge to issue a restraining order that kept at least five inmates in prison. In response to the high court's opinion, Hood released this statement which said in part, '"We do respect the decision of the court, but feel deeply for how it must weigh on the victims and their families. It is these victims and family members who have lost today and the criminals who have won."
Former Governor Haley Barbour issued this response, "As I've stated from the beginning, I recognize and respect the natural feelings of victims and their families and I know this has been difficult for many of them.That is why pardons are always subject to a lot of criticism and are generally unpopular. Nevertheless, these were decisions based on repentance, rehabilitation, and redemption, leading to forgiveness and the right defined and given by the state constitution to the governor to offer such people a second chance."
In their opinion, the justices wrote "We are compelled to hold that - in each of the cases before us - it fell to the governor alone to decide whether the Constitution's publication requirement was met."
Ed Pittman said, "Sometimes you over think yourselves and I think in this instance, the court over thought itself."
Pittman is a former Chief Justice of the state Supreme Court and a former Mississippi Attorney General.
He said, "If it's written in the constitution, it's there. It has some meaning and we should've given meaning to both the governor's pardon and the notice."
Meanwhile, Randy Walker says he will continue his effort to persuade state lawmakers to re-tool the governor's pardon power, even though such a bill has already been allowed to die. He says a conservative consensus is that 70-percent of Mississippians want that change.
Walker said, "In that 70-percent, our own new governor Phil Bryant has said that he's for these bills and they limit his power. That oughta speak volumes."
Mississippi Department of Corrections spokeswoman Tara Booth says pardoned inmates who are still in jail will be released 48 hours after law enforcement and prosecutors are notified in the county where they were convicted.
Saturday, May 25 2013 4:20 PM EDT2013-05-25 20:20:27 GMT
Judge Bill Gowan's Hinds County courtroom is in session for the 6th day of the James Hutto murder trial. Hutto, who is known for making obnoxious outbursts in court, has already made several erraticMore >>
After 6 days of testimony, evidence and many loud and obnoxious outbursts by Hutto, a jury has unanimously found him guilty of capital murder.More >>
Friday, May 24 2013 9:46 PM EDT2013-05-25 01:46:35 GMT
The list of the names is a part of rotating lists of names. For example, the list used in 2012 is used in 2018. Each storm will be named alphabetically. The lists of names are chosen by World MeteorologicalMore >>
The names for the 2013 North Atlantic hurricane season.More >>
Friday, May 24 2013 8:30 PM EDT2013-05-25 00:30:42 GMT
Yesterday we first told you about two parents of Boyd Elementary school students, who say their children were sexually assaulted by another student. The parents were furious that no action had been takenMore >>
Thursday we first told you about two parents of Boyd Elementary school students, who say their children were sexually assaulted by another student. The parents were furious that no action had been taken on their cases. Today more parents are speaking out about their children also falling victims.More >>
Friday, May 24 2013 12:22 PM EDT2013-05-24 16:22:29 GMT
James Hutto interrupted his own capital murder trial Tuesday morning, angry that judge Bill Gowan decided against the admissibility of certain evidence. "None of that matters? F***. I don't give a f***More >>
A capital murder case defendant, known for his abrasive outbursts and odd behavior in court, entered court Friday morning with a limp. James Hutto told Judge Bill Gowan that he needed to be excused for the day because the shackles on his legs had been irritating his skin. More >>
Friday, May 24 2013 9:19 PM EDT2013-05-25 01:19:22 GMT
A Vicksburg man was killed in a one vehicle accident on I-20 in Warren County Friday afternoon.Forty-nine-year-old Johnny Johnson was traveling westbound when he lost control of his 2004 Chevrolet at mileMore >>
A Vicksburg man was killed in a one vehicle accident on I-20 in Warren County Friday afternoon.More >>
Friday, May 24 2013 10:33 AM EDT2013-05-24 14:33:13 GMT
A battle of words from the attorneys representing Jackson Police Officer Terrance Crump and Shane Patrick. Crump's attorney Warren Martin says Patrick yelled racial slurs when walking out of the store.More >>
A battle of words from the attorneys representing Jackson Police Officer Terrance Crump and Shane Patrick has sparked after both parties claim they were the victim in a fight at an Edwards gas station. More >>
Friday, May 24 2013 6:04 PM EDT2013-05-24 22:04:01 GMT
Friday morning, Paul Williams told viewers it would be beautiful, summerlike Mississippi day. That was his last forecast for WLBT. Paul is leaving to become the Chief Meteorologist at the ABC affiliateMore >>
Friday morning, Paul Williams told viewers it would be beautiful, summerlike Mississippi day. That was his last forecast for WLBT. Paul is leaving to become the Chief Meteorologist at the ABC affiliate in Memphis.More >>
Friday, May 24 2013 7:17 PM EDT2013-05-24 23:17:09 GMT
A wreck involving a Hinds County Deputy happened on Highway 80 in Brandon, Friday afternoon. The female deputy's cruiser collided with another car. The front bumper of the cruiser was barely hangingMore >>
A wreck involving a Hinds County Deputy happened on Highway 80 in Brandon, Friday afternoon. The female deputy's cruiser collided with another car.More >>
Saturday, May 25 2013 2:58 PM EDT2013-05-25 18:58:48 GMT
Jefferson County Community Work Center inmate MELVIN TONEY, MDOC #K1985, left from the facility, in Fayette at approximately 6:00 a.m. today. TONEY was last seen wearing MDOC state-issued green and whiteMore >>
Authorities are searching for a MS Department of Corrections inmate who escaped this morning.