Mississippi high court declines to rehear pardon case

Reuters News
Posted: May 18, 2012 10:04 PM
Mississippi high court declines to rehear pardon case

By Emily Le Coz

TUPELO, Miss (Reuters) - Mississippi's high court on Thursday rejected a motion by its state attorney general to reconsider its approval of 10 pardons issued in January by then Governor Haley Barbour.

The decision not to rehear the case was handed down by the state Supreme Court without comment.

Attorney General Jim Hood had asked the court to void those pardons, among some 200 issued by the former Republican governor, on the grounds that technical procedures set out in the state constitution had not been met.

"It is a shame that former Governor Barbour abused the pardon power," Hood said in a statement on Thursday. "It is even more of a travesty that a majority of the present Mississippi Supreme Court chose not to enforce the clear language in our State Constitution."

The state Supreme Court ruled 6-3 in March that it could not set aside the contested pardons based solely on Hood's claim that the prisoners had failed to meet an obscure provision requiring felons seeking a pardon to publish the request in a newspaper 30 days in advance.

The 10 people who received the contested pardons were all prisoners at the time. Five had worked at the governor's mansion doing odd jobs, including four who were serving life sentences for murder.

"I pray no person becomes a victim of any of these pardoned criminals," Hood said.

(Editing By Corrie MacLaggan and Tim Gaynor)