Death Penalty

Governor can grant clemency in capital case even if inmate rejects it, state's top court rules

The governor of Oregon has power to grant clemency in a capital case regardless of whether the inmate in question wants to be put to death, the state’s top court ruled Thursday.

Reversing a trial court’s decision last year, the Oregon Supreme Court unanimously held that death row inmate Gary D. Haugen cannot refuse Gov. John Kitzhaber’s clemency grant, the Oregonian reports.

“The Oregon Constitution does not provide the recipient of a governor’s act of clemency with a corresponding individual right to reject that clemency,” writes Chief Justice Thomas Balmer in the court’s en banc opinion (PDF). “In fact, in describing the governor’s power to grant pardons, commutations, and reprieves, the constitutional text does not refer to the recipient of the grant of clemency at all.”

The Associated Press and the Salem Statesman Journal also have stories.

Earlier coverage: “Judge Says Inmate Who Wants to Be Executed Can Override Governor’s Death Penalty Veto” “2 Lawyers Face Criminal Contempt Case for Appealing OK of New Counsel for Client Seeking Execution”

Oregonian: “Judge dismisses contempt of court charges after former attorneys for Gary Haugen write apology letters”

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