On Tuesday, July 10, 2018, President Donald Trump granted a Full Pardon to Dwight and Steven Hammond.
The Hammonds were convicted on June 22, 2012, of starting two small fires under the 1996 Antiterrorism Act, which carried a 5 year minimum sentence. The presiding judge, Michael Hogan, overruled the minimum terrorist sentence, commenting that if the full five years were required it would be a violation of the 8th amendment (cruel and unusual punishment).
Dwight was sentenced to 3 months and Steven was given 12 months. They fulfilled these sentences. Dwight was released in March 2013 and Steven, January 2014.
The government appealed this ruling and in October 2015, the 9th District Court “re-sentenced” Dwight and Steven, requiring them to return to prison for several more years.
The “re-sentencing” of the ranchers from Harney County sparked a protest that led to the Malheur Wildlife Refuge Protest which lasted 41 days beginning in January 2016.
The protest, led by Ammon Bundy, ended after the shooting of LaVoy Finicum by law enforcement, during what they have called a “traffic stop”.
The traffic stop was set up in advance on a remote highway in Rural Oregon while the protesters were traveling to the city of John Day to participate in a public meeting. The set up was known as a “Deadman’s Roadblock”.
FBI Supervisory Special Agent W. Joseph Astarita is said to have fired his weapon at Finicum during that stop. He has not been charged with that crime, however, he is facing 5 charges for his actions during the incident, including obstruction of justice and giving false statements to investigators. His trial is scheduled to begin in Portland later this month.
Justice has finally been done in the Hammond case, which outraged Americans not just out West, but across the nation. Not only were they political prisoners prosecuted/persecuted by an Obama [In]Justice Department openly hostile to ranchers, but that same Justice Department was outraged when the trial judge dared display having a conscience and compassion – can’t have that! As the Trump White House statement put it:
At the Hammonds’ original sentencing, the judge noted that they are respected in the community and that imposing the mandatory minimum, 5-year prison sentence would “shock the conscience” and be “grossly disproportionate to the severity” of their conduct. As a result, the judge imposed significantly lesser sentences. The previous administration, however, filed an overzealous appeal that resulted in the Hammonds being sentenced to five years in prison. This was unjust.
Exactly. It was unjust. And that injustice has now finally been corrected. Now, the same thing needs to be done for the men who stood at Bundy ranch who have since been convicted, such as Todd Engel, who is scheduled to be sentenced on July 19, 2018, or those who were coerced into taking plea bargains after being threatened with long prison sentences if they dared go to trial (such as Jerry DeLemus). All of those prosecutions were politically motivated, and all of them are political prisoners. We will support such efforts in any way we can.
The pardon power is built right into our Constitution, in Article II, Section 2, Clause 1:
“…he shall have Power to grant Reprieves and Pardons for Offenses against the United States, except in Cases of Impeachment.”
That power is there for a reason, and such executive clemency is also a power in the hands of the state governors for the same reason – so that injustices can be corrected in particular cases. It is similar to the power of the jury to acquit even in the face of the law, as was done in the Bundy Malheur case in Oregon. The jury acquitted in that case because the jury could see that those prosecutions were an injustice. Imagine if that had been a bench trial (by judge) instead of by a jury.
The jury can stop injustice on the front end, through acquittal even in the face of the law, and the executive can correct an injustice on the back end through executive clemency (pardon, commutation of sentence), again, even in the face of the law, and despite conviction. Both serve as “safety valves” in our legal system to ensure that justice is done and that injustice is corrected.
Obama gave executive clemency (pardon or commutation of sentence) to 1,927 people, including a convicted terrorist who planted bombs in occupied buildings. Remember to point that out when leftists howl in anger about this.