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Because I Said No, That's Why
June 14, 2010 1:29 PM   Subscribe

The Arizona Clemency Board says that William Macumber, convicted of murder in 1975, is the victim of a "miscarriage of justice." But Arizona's governor, Jan Brewer, declined to follow the Board's unanimous recommendation that Macumber be freed. She also declines to explain why. Another man confessed to the murders, but although Macumber has been tried twice, neither jury was told of the confession.
posted by bearwife (51 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

 
Dammit, Jan Brewer, you're approaching the top of my List of Shittiest People.
posted by runningwithscissors at 1:30 PM on June 14, 2010 [10 favorites]


Brewer doesn't have to explain why. The explanation is no more distant or inscrutable than the upcoming election.
posted by darkstar at 1:31 PM on June 14, 2010


She also declines to explain why.

This should be grounds for immediate incarceration.
posted by Pope Guilty at 1:32 PM on June 14, 2010 [16 favorites]


A miscarriage is something nature induces. An abortion is something man made. This is an abortion of justice, not a miscarriage.
posted by spicynuts at 1:36 PM on June 14, 2010 [41 favorites]


I am now fascinated with Brewer. Like I was with Palin, before it was clear that the batshitinsane tag was so permanently affixed to her head that it defied all figuring out. Now with Brewer, I want to ask her: What the fuck did your parents do to you?
posted by angrycat at 1:43 PM on June 14, 2010 [5 favorites]


runningwithscissors: "Dammit, Jan Brewer, you're approaching the top of my List of Shittiest People."

*snort* She's not even number one in Arizona.
posted by graventy at 1:48 PM on June 14, 2010 [9 favorites]


She also declines to explain why.

She's a Republican up for re-election in Arizona.

“It’s borderline despicable.”

That's a good description too.
posted by quin at 1:51 PM on June 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


His ex sounds like a wonderful lady.
posted by rocket88 at 1:52 PM on June 14, 2010 [4 favorites]


It's not borderline despicable. That implies that it is possible that there is some morally acceptable reason for her behavior or perhaps that there is a sincere and understandable difference of opinion.

Her behavior is despicable, simple as that. There is no need to equivocate or qualify the sentiment.
posted by oddman at 2:02 PM on June 14, 2010 [8 favorites]


Leaving Brewer aside, isn't it a significant problem that the confession is heresay?
posted by electroboy at 2:05 PM on June 14, 2010


The AZ Governor's website says "Jan Brewer: Building a Better Arizona". I would like it to be known that I disagree with this statement.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 2:05 PM on June 14, 2010 [2 favorites]


Ever since Willie Horton, it's become politically unforgivable for a governor to give anyone convicted of a violent crime clemency, recommendations of boards be damned. There's a ton of political disincentive to letting someone who offends again out of jail, and absolutely no political disincentive to keeping an innocent person in jail. This should change.
posted by l33tpolicywonk at 2:08 PM on June 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


There's a ton of political disincentive to letting someone who offends again out of jail, and absolutely no political disincentive to keeping an innocent person in jail.

USA! USA! USA! USA! USA!
posted by Pope Guilty at 2:10 PM on June 14, 2010 [16 favorites]


Leaving Brewer aside, isn't it a significant problem that the confession is heresay?

Oooh, oooh, I know this! It's a statement against penal interest, which means it is admissible; statements are allowed if they incriminate the person making them.

I am not a a lawyer, but I heard tons of my husband's really dull stories from law school, and this one stuck. Actually, this is his one story that is NOT boring, so I am totally going to tell it now.

When talking about this particular exception to the hearsay rule, his professor asked the class basically if they bought this idea, that people were likely to tell the truth if it was against their interest in this way. He asked if anyone could think of an example of a time that someone had lied and said they committed a crime when they didn't, like, say, if someone lied and said they were driving a car that had gotten into an accident even when they hadn't been. One guy's hand shot up, and the professor called on him and asked him to tell his story. The guy looked around sheepishly and said "Oh, I -- I was thinking of The Great Gatsby".

If you read this, sweetheart, I'm sorry I stole your story, but the people have a right to know.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 2:12 PM on June 14, 2010 [8 favorites]


When someone spends 35 years in jail for a murder that someone else has confessed to, and the only person that can get him out is the Governer Jan Brewer, who also signed SB1070 - it's time to get a new Governer.
posted by Catblack at 2:15 PM on June 14, 2010 [2 favorites]


There is little political upside to granting clemency, but there is a substantial risk

This is the reality of the system. Clemency depends on the prerogative of a politician. If you don't like it, advocate change.

I agree with Professor Ruckman that, "You don't imprison a man for no reason." But as a political science professor, surely he understands that isn't what happened. The governor didn't imprison Macumber. A jury did. (Two, in fact.) If the ex-wife's testimony was unreliable, if some hearsay should have been admitted, those are problems but they weren't caused by the governor.
posted by cribcage at 2:17 PM on June 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


Leaving Brewer aside, isn't it a significant problem that the confession is heresay?

There's also exceptions to this, such in the case that the person is not longer available, but then I get my info from L&O.

But the way I see it you don't care if is is heresy, since in this case you are establishing doubt, not fact. Of course this is all thrown off by that pesky conviction.

Brewer is a nutjob.
posted by cjorgensen at 2:22 PM on June 14, 2010


Jail: It's not just for criminals anymore!
Take a Staycation on Government Dime!
Penal Motel: Leave your belongings to us!

Dear America, please stop taking policy advice from conspiracy theorists. Behold a Pale Horse isn't a guide to running your country.
posted by yeloson at 2:23 PM on June 14, 2010


I hope she sleeps well.
posted by nola at 2:25 PM on June 14, 2010


This is all Obama's fault.

Seriously. We were doing great with Janet Napolitano; she was a Democratic governor who actually got re-elected here in Republican Arizona. For a while, it felt like there might be hope for this state, politically.

And then she got offered Secretary of Homeland Security, and Brewer got appointed, and now you see the mess we're in.

My state's going full-tilt off the Republican deep end, trailing little liberal outpost Tucson in its wake.
posted by MrVisible at 2:25 PM on June 14, 2010 [4 favorites]


cribcage: "Clemency depends on the prerogative of a politician. If you don't like it, advocate change."

What is the biggest change that democratic advocacy has had in the penal system in the U.S? In Arizona?
posted by boo_radley at 2:25 PM on June 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


He asked if anyone could think of an example of a time that someone had lied and said they committed a crime when they didn't, like, say, if someone lied and said they were driving a car that had gotten into an accident even when they hadn't been.

Let me see...
Well, I have an instance where some guy claimed paternity when it wasn't his.
There's another lady to claimed she was the one who accidentally erased 18 minutes of audio tape, though it was nearly physically impossible by her admission.
Al Qaeda claimed responsibility for 7/7, but it was later proven they weren't involved.

Those are just off the top of my head, though.

I don't remember when it was, but there was an instance where a guy claimed the gun was his when it actually belonged to some rapper/pro athelete.

Now, regardless of these instances, there's that thing called "reasonable doubt" and to say someone else's confession is hearsay and thus should not be admitted as evidence in court is far from reasonable.

Jan Brewer and the DA should be locked up for obstruction of justice where they will get the jail cell they deserve.
posted by Bathtub Bobsled at 2:28 PM on June 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


Hearsay (out of court statements offered for the truth of what was said) are inadmissible. In this case, the man who confessed told his lawyers and a psychiatrist, so he didn't in fact face any risk of being convicted or punished for what he said to them -- and what he said was privileged too. So the Arizona courts barred the confession from admission at trial. Notably, one of the lawyers who offered to testify about the confession had later become a judge, and didn't have any obvious reason to lie about what his former client had confessed to him.

But of course the Board of Clemency and the governor are not bound by the rules of evidence, and can consider hearsay, especially when it does seem to be reliable.
posted by bearwife at 2:28 PM on June 14, 2010


Man. Between this, SB1070, trying to single-handedly overturn the 14th amendment, and the anecdotes about Sheriff Joe's Tentstravaganza from the debtors prison thread, the moral seems clear:

If you live in Arizona, MOVE if you have to walk out on bare feet.
posted by zjacreman at 2:34 PM on June 14, 2010 [4 favorites]


I feel like news of Arizona is fed through a Sitcom filter, when all their actions are amplified for the laughs, except everything goes wrong, so we get more sad trombone than canned laffs.

Except it's real. Oh Arizona! (Wah, waaah)
posted by filthy light thief at 2:35 PM on June 14, 2010


For instance, she said, he once falsely claimed to have a heart condition. “He intimates that if I hang around long enough, he’ll die and I’ll get the insurance money,” she said. “Well, I hung around and he didn’t die.”

Then he threatened to kill himself. “If you’re going to do it, go outside” she recalled telling her husband. “I don’t want blood on the walls.”


Ms. Kempfert, I don't think you're really succeeding at making your husband look like the untrustworthy one here.
posted by anazgnos at 2:38 PM on June 14, 2010 [2 favorites]


this has a little more history than the article.
posted by msconduct at 2:39 PM on June 14, 2010


"She's not even number one in Arizona."

It helps to read this in Machete's voice.
posted by zippy at 2:40 PM on June 14, 2010 [2 favorites]


Let me see...
Well, I have an instance where some guy claimed paternity when it wasn't his.
There's another lady to claimed she was the one who accidentally erased 18 minutes of audio tape, though it was nearly physically impossible by her admission.
Al Qaeda claimed responsibility for 7/7, but it was later proven they weren't involved.


There was that guy who confessed to killing Jon Benet, turned out not to have done it.

---

Did you guys hear they are working on a new law in Arizona that would deny birth certificates to children who's parents aren't legal immigrants, despite the fact that they are constitutionally citizens.

If you look at the demographics, there's something like a 50 point difference between the Hispanic/non-Hispanic ratio among young people and the ratio among old people there.
posted by delmoi at 2:40 PM on June 14, 2010


I hope she sleeps well at night.

I hope she sleeps alone.
posted by dobbs at 2:40 PM on June 14, 2010


Thanks, msconduct. What I found really interesting on the Bill Macumber website you linked to is the imbedded 4 minute news video about the case.
posted by bearwife at 2:54 PM on June 14, 2010


Sometimes this country feels so broken that I just want to give up. This is one of those times.
posted by stoneweaver at 2:55 PM on June 14, 2010


I hope she sleeps well at night.

That is the problem with these people. They sleep like babies, secure in the knowledge that there is no way anything they do could possibly be wrong.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 2:58 PM on June 14, 2010 [11 favorites]


Thorzdad: “WTF? Texas better look out because Arizona is seriously gunning for the "Biggest Asshole of the US" crown.”

If you'd been to either Texas or Arizona, you'd know that this statement makes no sense whatsoever. Texas is one of the best states in the union (with what is probably the most vibrant and active state Democratic Party in the US) whereas Arizona is a very real and true hell. A few sad folks in Tucson have had to watch the entire state collapse in Phoenixification and radicalization.

Of course, it helps to note that the best state out of the 50 is actually tucked right between Arizona and Texas. How Arizona can be so close to greatness and yet so oblivious to it will always be beyond my ken.
posted by koeselitz at 3:08 PM on June 14, 2010



She sure scares me.
posted by notreally at 3:20 PM on June 14, 2010


Fucked up.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 3:25 PM on June 14, 2010


If you look at the demographics, there's something like a 50 point difference between the Hispanic/non-Hispanic ratio among young people and the ratio among old people there.

So, like John Lee Hooker said, we've just gotta wait around for the old coots to die.

I'm not sure there's another way forward.
posted by Devils Rancher at 3:31 PM on June 14, 2010


If you live in Arizona, MOVE if you have to walk out on bare feet.

Many of the people I know in communist, Baja Arizona are trying to. The problem is that even those of us who have spent lots of time and money getting degrees can't get a fucking job anywhere. Hell, I got turned down for a busboy job the other day. I have a MLS.

A few sad folks in Tucson have had to watch the entire state collapse in Phoenixification and radicalization.

There's more than a few in Tucson and plenty in other parts of the state. Unfortunately Obama made our reasonable, moderate governor Secretary of Homeland Shenanigans and left us without a safety valve for the idiots in control of the legislature.
posted by nestor_makhno at 3:34 PM on June 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


Arizona:USA::USA:the rest of the world
posted by five fresh fish at 3:44 PM on June 14, 2010 [6 favorites]


[few comments removed - please chill out and don't turn this into a "fuck USA" or "Fuck texas" or "fuck you" thread. MetaTalk is your option.]
posted by jessamyn at 3:58 PM on June 14, 2010


The Flagstaff area's pretty liberal, too, even though there's a large Mormon population. They were also suing to get rid of SB1070.

Arpaio's always been a dick, Arizona's been a red state for most of recent memory, but this current loss of all common sense and human decency is probably because a lot of idiots are in a gibbering mess because of the recession and need someone to direct their vitriol at. There are literally no jobs in so many places. Like, no fast food or Wal-mart jobs. 911 service is getting canceled in places. It's insane. And they need someone to blame it on.

My Hispanic roommate had someone say something racist to her out at a bar last year in AZ, and she was appalled and said no one had ever said anything like that to her in her life (and she was born and grew up in Arizona). It's not so much a hellhole as it is an okay state that has just plain lost its mind recently. I don't think they have a chance of recovering any time soon unless they get rid of Brewer and Arpaio.

The AZ:USA::USA:Everyone else comment doesn't work on most levels. The USA is, in general, rich and powerful. Arizona has never been either. If I were forced to fill out this analogy as of today, I'd go with North Korea. Before 2007, it would probably have been Poland or something.
posted by wending my way at 4:06 PM on June 14, 2010


I got turned down for a busboy job the other day. I have a MLS.

What I hear from my classmates makes this sound like a best-case scenario.
posted by Pope Guilty at 4:07 PM on June 14, 2010


Ashamed to be an American when reading this news-- as all good Americans should be. Everybody, watch Dancer in the Dark this weekend. That Dane may despise us, but he's got us pegged.
posted by homerica at 4:33 PM on June 14, 2010


She's making this guy look good.
posted by birdherder at 4:51 PM on June 14, 2010


I go to grad school in AZ, but this summer I'm on the east coast for an internship. Stuff like this makes me contemplate returning just long enough to throw my stuff in a Ryder truck and get the hell out of Dodge.
posted by Alterscape at 5:46 PM on June 14, 2010


Hell, I got turned down for a busboy job the other day. I have a MLS.

There is such a thing as being overqualified for the job. A lot of restaurant owners hesitate to hire people with an entirely different background than restaurant work and a degree. Chances are, you're going to leave as soon as something better comes along, and they'd rather hire someone who will work up to the job of waiter.
posted by krinklyfig at 5:55 PM on June 14, 2010


Oh, gods, avoid Dancer in the Dark. There's no need to suffer.

The AZ:USA::USA:Everyone else comment doesn't work on most levels. The USA is, in general, rich and powerful.

Yes, but in general the USA's laws and mores are as ridiculous to the rest of us, as Arizona's lunacy is to the USA. The confusion between healthcare and health insurance, for instance, boggles the minds of people in modern societies. The freak-outs about gay rights, too, are seen as bizarre by a lot of us. Corporate funding of election campaigns is yet another instance of US craziness. So on and etceteras.

BTW, I didn't come up with the comparison; I spotted it on Reddit.
posted by five fresh fish at 7:18 PM on June 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


Yes, but in general the USA's laws and mores are as ridiculous to the rest of us

So you're speaking for Somalia and Sudan and North Korea and Burma, or is this a case of "the rest of the world"= "Canada and Western Europe, in certain contexts?"
posted by Snyder at 9:58 PM on June 14, 2010


I'm sure you can figure it out. There are a bunch more sentences following the bit you quoted that provide additional context. You should try reading them, with this in mind: it's not meant to be infallible truth.
posted by five fresh fish at 11:37 PM on June 14, 2010


He asked if anyone could think of an example of a time that someone had lied and said they committed a crime when they didn't

Well there is this guy.
posted by furisto at 2:40 AM on June 15, 2010


"She also declines to explain why."

That because it's "Boy, we just don't like your kind around these parts. Savvy?"
posted by Twang at 7:55 AM on June 15, 2010


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