The suspect in the slaying of 4 police officers in Washington state, Maurice Clemmons of Lakewood reaped a dream benefit from former Governor Mike Huckabee of Arkansas. He was banged up for decades as a repeat violent offender, and Governor Huckabee commuted his sentence over the protests of prosecutors in the case.
At the age of 18, Clemmons was sentenced to 60 years for theft and burglary charges. He was serving 48 years for other violent crimes. During trials in which he was the defendant, he apparently exhibited some more eyebrow raising behavior, which included reaching for a guard's gun during transport, and threatening the judge.
Because the judge did not recuse himself from that trial and a series of other civil rights violations, several charges against Clemmons were dropped (State of Arkansas v Maurice Clemmons).
Even with all that history, Huckabee, citing Clemmons' youth at the time of the commission of the crimes and incarceration, commuted his sentence after he'd served 11 years on sentences totaling 95 years of jail time. He remained on parole and committed more violent crimes. He was arrested, the paperwork in the cases was bad and the prosecutors did not refile.
Here is Huckabee's response to critics:
"Have Robert Herzfeld, Larry Jegley and the other prosecuting attorneys prosecuted every crime to the full extent the law allows? In other words, have they in every case pursued the maximum penalties? Did they ever plea bargain? How often? What's the percentage of cases in which they've accepted less than the maximum penalties allowed by law?
"My point is this: They used their discretion to decide they would ask for less punishment than the maximum sentences. They exercised their personal judgment. In about 10 percent of the cases before me, I might use my discretion based on recommendations of the Post Prison Transfer Board, the testimony of officials, prison records, etc.," Huckabee told us.
"In those cases, I'm doing the same thing Herzfeld, Jegley and others have done – using my judgment. The difference is that we never know about their plea bargains and the thought pro-cesses they used. I have to give public notice, contact all officials and then have a 30-day public comment period.
"I'm thinking of trying to get the law changed so prosecutors are required to give notice to all involved, have a 30-day public comment period and seek input prior to a plea bargain or any decision to seek less than the maximum sentences allowed by law," Huckabee says.
In another development, Huck PAC has deflected blame from their man and put off the alleged actions of Clemmons and his presence in the community as "...the result of a series of failures in the criminal justice system in both Arkansas and Washington State..." They go on to say that "...It appears that he has continued to have a string of criminal and psychotic behavior but was not kept incarcerated by either state..." implying that Washington state had legal means to keep him incarcerated after he posted bail. He has not had a trial in Washington state, however he had several in Arkansas. They also declare him to be exhibiting 'psychotic behavior,' apparently bringing all of their psychiatric experience to bear.
Jon Perr has a post on the Top Ten Moments of Huckabee Extremism. Looks like we have another candidate.
Maybe that great gig at Fox is looking even better in the face of scrutiny of presidential campaigns.