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Judge’s Decision Could Mean Long Sentences For 10 With Pardons

By Jeffrey Hess | Published 27 Jan 2012 05:44pm | comments
Judge Tomie Greene.

A hearing later this week will begin the process of determining the constitutionality of some of former Governor Haley Barbour's pardons.  M-P-B's Jeffrey Hess reports the hearing will focus on ten people who were pardoned but still owe prison time if the pardon is overturned.

"People are waiting for him. This is a big celebration for him to come home,"

That's Jonathan Tate outside the Hinds County Court House last week.

He is the brother of Kirby Tate, one of the people pardoned by Governor Haley Barbour in the final days of his administration.

"All his friends and family. His job, his home, a new place to live. This is a chance to start again and forgive everybody and start again," Tate said.

According to court documents, Kirby Tate was sentenced to 60 years in prison after a 2003 traffic stop when police found between 1 ounce and 2 pounds of Marijuana and three Oxycodone pills in his truck.

Tate's brother and lawyer argue that Kirby filed a proper pardon request and now worry that he is in danger in prison since he has been pardoned but remains in jail.

"It is terribly frightening. My brother is being kept in a place where there are a lot of bad people. Something could happen to him at any minute. They certainly hold his pardon against him. I feel like he is in terrible danger. There are people there that could be promoted within their affiliation by causing him harm or injury," Tate said.

Tate is one of the ten people pardoned by Governor Barbour who would still owe prison time if the pardons are ruled unconstitutional.

Five have been released but five others are being held while the case is sorted out.

Lawyers for all but one person have filed suit defending the constitutionality of the pardons.

For Attorney General Jim Hood, who filed the challenge against the pardons, the pardons did not follow the constitutional requirement that pardon requests be printed in a news paper for 30 days.

"In this case, it is straight dry law. And I am the officer who is responsible to to enforce the law of the state of Mississippi before anybody else is. Nobody else has got this responsibility and I am going to enforce it," Hood said.

The Friday hearing may or may not settle the case, but both side will have a chance to present their evidence that the pardons are valid or not....if the judge rules the pardons unconstitutional, people like Kirby Tate could once again be facing lengthy prison terms...some as long as life in prison.



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