Letter
From the Office of State Senator Rodney Ellis

For Immediate Release
April 16, 2004
Contact: Kenneth Besserman, (512) 463-0113


Chairwoman Rissie Owens
Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles
P.O. Box 13401
Austin, TX 78711-3401

Dear Chairwoman Owens:

I would like to call your attention once again to the case of Josiah Sutton. Yesterday, Judge Joan Huffman, of the 183rd Harris County District Court, ruled that she will recommend that the Court of Criminal Appeals grant Josiah's application for habeas corpus based upon his actual innocence of the crime for which he was convicted. It has been over a year since Mr. Sutton's innocence was proven. Faulty DNA evidence was used to convict him, yet his rights remain imprisoned by a system that refuses to ensure the justice that it has sworn to uphold.

Up to this point, you and the Board of Pardons and Paroles have chosen to sit idly by, as a young man and his future waiver in legal limbo. Nobody can give Josiah back the 4 1/2 years that he was forced to endure in prison as a teenager, but the Board has the power to give Josiah the pardon for innocence that he deserves, so that he can began to rebuild his life. You have the power to do that immediately.

The Board of Pardons and Paroles has the power and the duty to grant Mr. Sutton the pardon for innocence that he deserves, but claim to be limited by a self imposed procedural rule. No other state requires the written consent of the three trial officials in order to obtain a pardon for innocence. The Board has the ability to change this archaic and ridiculous rule, which seems to impede justice rather than ensure it. Furthermore, in the A.B. Butler Jr. case, the Board granted a pardon for innocence without the unanimous recommendation of the three trial officials. Board Rule 141.51 clearly states "In no event shall the rules be construed as a limitation or restriction upon the exercise of any discretion by the board or parole panel." 37 TAC S 141.5. This rule grants you the discretion to grant a pardon for innocence without requiring the written consent of the three trial officials. One of the critical functions of the Board of Pardons and Paroles is to discover and correct mistakes in the criminal justice system and grant pardons to innocent people. I ask that you fulfill the duty you have sworn to uphold, and let this young man get on with his life.

I will continue to watch this case, and the Board of Pardons and Paroles, closely until justice is served.

Sincerely,

Rodney Ellis

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