Daniel Perry’s Pardon Makes a Mockery of Self-Defense

“It is absolutely true that the right to self-defense is vital. And to argue that Perry—who, prior to killing Foster at a 2020 Black Lives Matter protest, wrote that he wanted to “shoot the [protesters] in the front and push the pedal to the metal”—acted in self-defense is to make a total mockery of that right and those who’ve had to exercise it.”

“In July 2020, Perry ran a red light and drove into a crowd of protesters. That in and of itself, of course, is not enough to deduce that he was looking for a fight. His own statements prior to doing so, however, add a great deal of helpful context and show his frame of mind at the time. “I might have to kill a few people on my way to work they are rioting outside my apartment complex,” he wrote on social media on May 31, 2020. Also in May, he threatened to a friend that he “might go to Dallas to shoot looters.” And then in mid-June, he sent that message about going to a protest, “shoot[ing] the ones in the front,” and then careening his car through the hubbub.
This was part of a pattern. Austin police detective William Bursley testified, for instance, that Perry searched on Safari for “protesters in Seattle gets shot,” “riot shootouts,” and “protests in Dallas live.” It is not hard to connect the dots between his searches and messages.

So what about that stand-your-ground defense Abbott alleges the jury nullified? Core to Perry’s case and trial was whether he reasonably feared for his life that July evening. Foster indeed had a rifle on him—because open carry is legal in Texas. The Second Amendment does not solely exist for people with conservative views. The big question then: Was Foster pointing the gun at Perry when he approached his vehicle? For the answer, we can go to Perry himself, who told law enforcement that he was not. “I believe he was going to aim at me,” he said. “I didn’t want to give him a chance to aim at me.” But that is not a self-defense justification, as Perry cannot claim clairvoyance.

That the jury reached the conclusion they did is not a mystery, nor is it an outrage. What is outrageous, however, is that a governor who claims to care about law and order has made clear that his support for crime victims is at least in part conditional on having the “right” politics.”

https://reason.com/2024/05/17/daniel-perrys-pardon-makes-a-mockery-of-self-defense/

Biden Expands Pardons for Low-Level Federal Marijuana Offenders

“President Joe Biden expanded a categorical pardon..for low-level marijuana offenders convicted on federal lands and in the District of Columbia”

“Biden also commuted the sentences of 11 nonviolent drug offenders serving sentences that were much longer than they would have been if the prisoners had been sentenced today. They were convicted of cocaine and methamphetamine offenses.”

https://reason.com/2023/12/22/biden-expands-pardons-for-low-level-federal-marijuana-offenders/

Greg Abbott’s Pardon Promise Ignores the Shakiness of Daniel Perry’s Self-Defense Claim

“a Texas jury found Army Sgt. Daniel Perry guilty of murdering Garrett Foster, a protester he encountered at a Black Lives Matter demonstration in July 2020. Less than 24 hours after that verdict, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said he would pardon Perry if asked.
Abbott’s hasty announcement, which seemed to be driven by conservative complaints that Perry had been unjustly prosecuted for shooting Foster in self-defense, illustrates how political prejudices convert empirical questions into tests of team loyalty. That bipartisan tendency is the antithesis of what jurors are supposed to do when they are confronted by the clashing narratives of a criminal trial.

Abbott took it for granted that Perry’s account of what happened the night he killed Foster was accurate. Texas has “one of the strongest” self-defense laws in the country, the governor wrote on Twitter, and that law “cannot be nullified by a jury or a progressive District Attorney.”

Contrary to the implication, the jurors who convicted Perry did not ignore the state’s self-defense law, which allows someone to use deadly force when he “reasonably believes” it is “immediately necessary” to protect himself against the “use or attempted use of unlawful deadly force.” The jurors simply did not believe the circumstances of Foster’s death met those requirements.”

Biden Begins Using Clemency To Ameliorate the Damage Done by the Draconian Drug Policies He Long Supported

“Although Biden waited more than 15 months before issuing any pardons or commutations, that delay compares favorably to those of many previous presidents. Even Barack Obama, who ultimately granted a record 1,715 commutations, did not approve any until the last year of his first term, and then just one. Obama did not get serious until the third year of his second term, and the vast majority of his commutations came during his last year in office.

That sort of timing is typical. Presidents tend to treat clemency as an afterthought rather than an ongoing process of correcting injustices, partly because they figure any political backlash against their decisions will be limited if they make them on their way out the door. Biden evidently anticipates that the net political impact of freeing nonviolent drug offenders will be positive, which is a good sign.”

Trump left behind a clemency mess. The clock’s ticking for Biden to solve it.

“When Joe Biden took office, he inherited the largest backlog of unresolved clemency cases in U.S. history: 14,000 people waiting to find out if their convictions would be erased or sentences reduced, or if they’d get any answer at all.”

“In most cases, Trump bypassed the lengthy, multilevel process for clemency that has been conducted for more than a century. Instead, he made decisions through an ad hoc system where politically connected allies and well-paid lobbyists tried to persuade him in person and on TV to use pardons to help friends and hurt enemies.
In total, Trump granted 237 pardons or commutations and denied 180 cases. Many of those he acted on were headline-grabbing: former members of Congress, numerous people convicted in Robert Mueller’s probe into Russia’s 2016 election interference, and security contractors convicted for massacring Iraqi civilians in 2008. He failed to act on thousands of other cases, leaving 13,750 behind for Biden.

But the current backlog — the largest on record, according to the Justice Department and experts — can’t be blamed on Trump alone.

Barack Obama waited well into his second term to act. When he urged federal prisoners to apply for leniency under his clemency initiative, which allowed certain inmates to make their case for getting their sentences commuted, petitions soared. He received more than 36,000 requests, the largest total of any president on record. And he acted on an historic amount — more than 22,000 cases — granting clemency 1,927 times, including 212 pardons and 1,715 commutations.

But Obama didn’t take care of all the pending cases, leaving behind 13,000 of them when he left office. And when his final pardon attorney, Deborah Leff, resigned in January of Obama’s final year in office, she lamented that the clemency initiative didn’t have enough resources.

“In his clemency initiative, President Obama focused significant resources on identifying inmates, most of them people of color, who had been sentenced to excessive and draconian sentences,” said Neil Eggleston, who served as White House counsel for Obama. “The president would have liked to clear the backlog in pending petitions, but resources spent in achieving that goal would have resulted in fewer inmates who were serving those excessive sentences for relatively minor drug crimes being released.””

Trump’s final pardon spree, explained

“President Trump has ended his term in office in a very appropriate way for him — by handing out pardons to some of his close associates and supporters for corruption crimes.

Perhaps the most notable of these pardons was the one given to Steve Bannon, Trump’s former campaign CEO and White House chief strategist, announced late Tuesday night. Bannon was awaiting trial on fraud charges — specifically, he was charged with defrauding donors to a crowdfunding campaign promising to build a wall on the US-Mexico border. Yes, that means Trump pardoned Bannon for allegedly defrauding Trump’s own supporters.

The clemency grant list released by the White House early Wednesday morning also included Elliott Broidy, a wealthy Republican donor, lobbyist, and former RNC finance committee member who had pleaded guilty to violating the Foreign Agents Registration Act in October. It included three former Republican members of Congress and a former Democratic mayor of Detroit, all of whom were charged with corruption crimes. Celebrity rappers Lil Wayne and Kodak Black also made the cut, as did dozens of lesser-known people (including some who seem to have genuinely deserved clemency).

Trump has now pardoned two of his campaign chiefs (the other being Paul Manafort), in addition to his first national security adviser (Michael Flynn), his longtime political guru (Roger Stone), and the first two members of Congress to endorse his 2016 campaign (former Reps. Chris Collins and Duncan Hunter).

In recent months, Trump considered going even further — he mused about offering “preemptive pardons” to people who haven’t even been charged with crimes, like his attorney Rudy Giuliani and several of his children, as well as a dubiously legal “self-pardon.”

These haven’t materialized. The big picture, though, is that Trump has brazenly used the pardon power to shield his associates from consequences for criminal wrongdoing in a way no president has for decades.”

Trump pardons corrupt members of Congress and allies caught in Russia investigation

“a flurry of pardons and commutations — largely to a mix of political cronies and allies, from people caught in former special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation to corrupt ex-members of Congress.”

“The president has used his pardon powers to the benefit of political allies before. He recently pardoned his former national security adviser, Michael Flynn. Prior to that, Trump granted reprieves to adviser Roger Stone and former Maricopa County, Arizona, Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who endorsed and campaigned for Trump.
Harvard professor Jack Goldsmith estimated 88 percent of Trump’s pardons and commutations have gone to people with personal or political ties to Trump. The latest pardons “continue Trump’s unprecedented pattern of issuing self-serving pardons and commutations that advance his personal interests, reward friends, seek retribution against enemies, or gratify political constituencies,” Goldsmith told the Times.”

“Past presidents have also used their pardon powers for friends and allies. Former President Bill Clinton triggered controversy when he issued more than 100 pardons on his last day in office, including to his half-brother and to Marc Rich, whose ex-wife was a Clinton donor.
These longstanding problems have led some activists to call for reform of the pardon process, fashioning it to be less a tool of political and personal favors and instead a means to criminal justice reform.”

Trump Commutes Ally Roger Stone’s Prison Sentence

“As with the Justice Department’s unprecedented attempt to dismiss charges against former national security adviser Michael Flynn after he pleaded guilty in open court to making false statements to the FBI, Stone’s pardon is a case of the Trump administration citing legitimate problems with the criminal justice system for nakedly cynical and self-serving ends. The Justice Department did not care about excessive sentencing or unfair prosecutions before. It does not care about them now, and it will not care about them when they’re used again to railroad defendants who aren’t Trump’s allies.

This isn’t the first time the Trump administration has stepped in to protect Stone. A federal grand jury indicted Stone last January on seven counts of obstruction of justice, false statements, and witness tampering stemming from Special Prosecutor Roger Mueller’s probe of Russian interference into the 2016 presidential election. Stone was convicted on all counts in November.

Federal prosecutors originally recommended a seven- to nine-year prison sentence for Stone, prompting Trump to fume on Twitter that this was “horrible and very unfair.” A day later, the Justice Department overrode the line prosecutors’ recommendations—an almost unheard of event—saying Stone deserved a far lighter sentence.”