by Mary W Maxwell
The first question we may ask is “Does the Queen hold a court of equity within her own bosom?” Sir William’s Blackstone’s answer, in Book 4 of his Commentaries on the Laws of England (1769) is: Yes.
Indeed Blackstone thinks that it is “one of the great advantages of a monarchy in general” that a monarch has the “power to extend mercy.” In Australia there have been various legislative acts governing the issuing of pardons but for offenses against the Commonwealth the Queen retains the pardon power.
The Misuse of Pardons
There is understandably a concern that an executive of government can use the pardon to pervert the course of justice. In the US, a billionaire drug dealer, Marc Rich, was convicted of various crimes including that of trading with the enemy. He was living in Switzerland, and never saw jail.
However he made various efforts to buy people off, such as by donating $450,000 to President Bill Clinton’s Library. Eric Holder, who was Clinton’s Assistant Attorney General, arranged for Rich to be pardoned on Clinton’s last day in office in January 2001.
Note: That didn’t go down too well with parents whose sons are serving life in prison for drug-related crimes.
The most famous pardon in America is the one that Gerald Ford granted to Richard Nixon. During Nixon’s presidency, Nelson Rockefeller had arranged to have Spiro Agnew, the Vice President, dumped from office — via a ‘scandal,’ of course. When Agnew went out, Congressman Gerry Ford came in, in 1973, as the new vice-president. (Nixon appointed him.)
Nixon himself then got dumped by pressure — the House was threatening an impeachment. Thus, in 1974, VP Ford “ascended to the White House.” (You can guess whom he then chose as his vice-president. Nelson Rockefeller, right? Right.)
Ford then reached into his presidential pocket and out came a pardon with RMN written all over it. What reason do you think he gave for doing this? “To help the nation heal.”
L – R: Gerald Ford, Richard Nixon, Nelson Rockefeller
That’s what I call a misuse of the pardon power. Not because it was Clintonesque. Rather, because the wrongdoer, Nixon, had not had a trial, or even an indictment. To preclude these – as Ford did –deprived Americans of important information about crime.
The Boston Marathon and the Port Arthur Massacre
In the last year I have been making all sorts of noise about two prisoners. Each of them was a patsy in an Inside-Job act of terrorism – the Boston Marathon bombing of 2013, and the Port Arthur massacre of 1996.
To summarize the situation quickly: the Top Controllers did the actual killings, then they set up an innocent person to be blamed. For this, they used the tremendous power of the media to persuade the citizens as to whodunit.
Subsequently, in each case, the accused seemed to plead guilty. Technically, Jahar Tsarnaev never pleaded guilty, but his defense lawyer — and I use the term ‘defense lawyer’ in a devil-may-care fashion – said, in her own voice, “He did it.” Also, after his conviction, perhaps hoping to get a sentence less than Death, Jahar gave a scripted “apology” to victims. (Oh what a tangled web they weave…)
As for the patsy in the Port Arthur massacre, the intellectually handicapped 28-year-old Martin Bryant, he did plead guilty. He had first pleaded Not Guilty, but after months in solitary confinement, he changed his plea. Well you would, wouldn’t you.
There was no trial, as there should have been, and no Inquest, as is mandated by state law. It was the antithesis of everything I learned in Adelaide Law School.
Should Tsarnaev and Bryant Be Pardoned?
As I have just indicated, both of these men – Martin is now 48 and Jahar is 22 – did not commit the violent crimes for which they are blamed. The court cases against them were rigged so egregiously it is almost unbelievable. Still, the fact is that a pardon would get them out of jail.
This would help the public, as the two men would be free to “talk.” In both cases there is a tremendous amount of effort being made to keep everyone deceived and in the dark.
Just ask Rupert Murdoch, for instance, what instructions he received from his bosses in late 2015 to conjure up a report by Bryant’s sister Lindy as to her “disowning” of her Bro.
We should not, at this stage, expect the men to be given new trials. To put the real stuff on the table would implicate the government. Canberra is not ‘ready.’
To be more precise, it would implicate the “cabal” to whom high-profile pollies apparently pledge allegiance. (Can you imagine!) The Cabal has yet to be slapped on the wrist for anything, much less be thrown into jail.
The thing to keep in mind here is the strategic use of a pardon. By the way, in the case of Jahar, the “pardon” can take the form of Obama granting clemency, by reducing the punishment from death to life imprisonment. Fancy that.
In the case of Bryant, there is the important fact that his mother, Carleen, is elderly and he would be able to go home to her.
I Think an Urgent Pardon Is Needed
All of that said, I recommend an urgent pardon, and it is not for either of the two aforementioned persons (though I will be pleased if they are pardoned forthwith). I have in mind something more creative.
The beauty of the pardon prerogative is that it has very few restrictions and so can be used strategically. Really it should be called upon where it could solve an intractable problem.
Thank God there are a few such human actions in this world that counteract the law practitioner’s belief that Precedent Reigns Supreme!
Recall that I expressed my disapproval of the US pardoning a man, Richard Nixon, who didn’t even have a charge sheet written up against him. But to be creative, one may have to swallow one’s disapproval. The person I have in mind to be pardoned has never, as far as I know, been accused of so much as a parking violation.
We here at Gumshoe News have blamed him left, right, and center, but he presumably does not even know we have done that. I want him to be pardoned now, both as a gesture that would be tantamount to accusing him — and as a way for him to breathe free for the first time in decades.
Here Comes the Judge
Of course I am referring to the Chief Justice of the Tasmanian Supreme Court, the one who ruled for “R” in R v Bryant, causing Martin to spend the last 20 years in Risdon Prison.
That would be Sir William Cox. After leaving the bench he became the vice-regal of Tasmania from 2004 to 2008 (and has recently been appointed to a new post, at the age of 79).
Members of the Dutch royal family visit the Coxes in Tasmania.
The current Governor of Tasmania is Professor Kate Warner from University of Tasmania Law School. Her academic specialty, indeed one for which she wrote the textbook, is sentencing. She would have no trouble discerning from Justice Cox’s sentencing of Martin that a lot was amiss.
I am not here to ask this vice-regal person if she holds a court of equity in her bosom. I presume she does. But mercy is not the key to solving the Port Arthur problem.
I point out to Her Excellency Governor Warner that giving Martin Bryant a pardon would at least start the ball rolling.
The goal is to undo all that came about as a result of Port Arthur. One friend of mine (who believes in Bryant’s innocence) has pointed out that it may be unwise to send him into the free world. I can’t address that issue. It is certainly not for me to say that Martin’s mental deficit should keep him warehoused in a prison.
My mission here is to canvass some of the things that are available in law, to bring some relief to an unbearable hit against Australia’s sovereignty and tradition of respect for law.
Or, for that matter, tradition of respect for life.
— Mary W Maxwell is the co-author with Dee McLachlan of “Truth in Journalism.” Her website is maryWmaxwell.com.