Wednesday, March 02, 2011

In The US Political Commutations Of Judicial Sentences Are Rarely Greeted With Public Approval

Posted by Peter Quennell

The idea that PM Berlusconi could insert himself into Meredith’s case - or for that matter Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton - has frankly always seemed rather ludicrous. .

In Italy there is not even any clear route for politicians to meddle with the legal processes. The Italian judiciary is one of the world’s most independent, as many politicians (not least Mr Berlusconi) have found out to their cost.

In the United States the president and many state governors have the power to award prisoners clemency and to reduce or fully commute their sentences. Rarely is this very popular, and sometimes it turns into a third rail.

We now have a good example in California. Arnold Schwarznegger left office as governor of California late in January, already under something of a cloud for a lackluster performance while in office.

Just before departing he approved various commutations including a reduction by half of the sentence of the son of a political colleague who had already pleaded guilty to a knife murder and had been awarded a not-very-tough sentence.

Now the outraged family of the murdered boy are running both a legal campaign and a political campaign to have this commutation reversed, and those campaigns are both gathering wide public traction.

Mr Schwarznegger is seeing no obvious gain out of this, and his legacy could be permanently tarnished. Shades of Senator Cantwell? She also has gone very very quiet.


Posted by Peter Quennell on 03/02/11 at 10:03 AM in Justice systemsUS etc systemsThe wider contextsN America context


Comments

peter,
given silvio’s brilliant career til now (cough, cough) and his current problems, this seems so unlikely as to be as possible as gaddafi taking responsibility for his actions.

Posted by mojo on 03/02/11 at 05:56 PM | #

Hi mojo. Yes you are right, Mr Berlusconi does seem to have a lot of personal and political issues on his mind these days…

And given the current global and pan-Mediterranean happenings, Italy and the US are probably seeking to work as closely together as they have in the recent past.

And apart from the fact that the US Rome Embassy saw nothing wrong in the trial, there are two raw legal incidents in the recent past which rule out the US stirring things up in this case..

The cable-car controversy and the CIA kidnapping case both resulted in a firmer Italian judiciary and lingering negative public opinion.

Posted by Peter Quennell on 03/02/11 at 06:53 PM | #


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