Five former members of the Arizona Board of Executive Clemency say they were pressured by a top aide to Governor Jan Brewer to deny requests for relief in high-profile cases, according to The Arizona Daily Star.
In a signed affidavit, former Chairman Jesse Hernandez said he was called into several “come to Jesus” meetings by Scott Smith, Brewer’s chief of staff. Hernandez said Smith told him the governor does not want a repeat of two situations when the board had recommended clemency, putting her in the position of having to reject the pleas.
“I immediately understood this to mean that Governor Brewer was directing me not to recommend clemency in high-profile cases,” Hernandez wrote.
Four other former board members — three who were replaced and a fourth who, like Hernandez, later quit — made similar complaints. Some contended Brewer refused to reappoint them because they had supported earlier clemency efforts.
The filings came in a federal court lawsuit filed Thursday in a bid to stop the Oct. 9 execution of Edward Schad, convicted in the 1978 murder of Lorimer Grove of Bisbee.
Schad has exhausted all of his legal appeals. But he is scheduled to go before the five-member clemency board next week — a board his lawyers contend now has members under pressure to reject his plea.
The board’s vote is significant because Brewer can grant a reprieve only if the board recommends one.
Schad’s attorneys contend Brewer is embarrassed by rejecting some high-profile requests and has made it clear to board members, through her staff, they should not put her in that position.
by Capitol Media Services show Brewer got 22 recommendations last year, granting seven.
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