Seriously, has Kasich’s folks even read the Ohio Constitution at any point?

Today, the Governor released a statement indicating that he has asked the Ohio Parol Board to examine the case and give a recommendation.  That is a totally appropriate thing under the law for the Governor to consider.  What isn’t proper is what the Governor asked the Parol Board to examine.  According to the Governor’s prepared release:

Today Gov. John R. Kasich announced that he has instructed the Ohio Parole Board to review the case of Kelley Williams-Bolar and make a recommendation to him to determine if her conviction should stand, if it should be reduced to a lesser offense, if her sentence should be reduced or if she should be pardoned.”

Folks, here’s Art. III, Sec. 11 of the Ohio Constitution:

The Governor shall have power, after conviction, to grant reprieves, commutations, and pardons, for all crimes and offenses, except treason and cases of impeachment, upon such conditions as the Governor may think proper; subject, however, to such regulations, as to the manner of applying for commutations and pardons, as may be prescribed by law. . .

So when it comes to a Governor’s constitutional clemency powers, an Ohio Governor can only do one of three things: 1) Temporarily delay the fulfillment of the sentence through a reprieve; 2) lower or otherwise modify the terms of a sentence without forgiving the commission of the crime itself through a commutation; or 3) pardon both the offense and the sentence entirely.

A Governor has no power to determine “if her conviction should stand” or “if it should be reduced to a lesser offense.”  The first is the purview of Ohio’s appellate courts.  The second is exclusive purview of the grand jury and the prosecuting authority.   Neither is the jurisdiction of the State’s chief executive.

There is no constitutional or legal authority for a Governor to reduce a conviction, post-conviction, to a lesser charge.  I’m working to find out if the Administration has some anecdote or legal authority they’re relying on in even making the representation.

As anyone who has watched the Parole Board would tell you, ordinarily any application for a pardon this soon after a conviction (and before a person has even completed her sentence) is almost always rejected by the Parole Board.

Now, the Governor can, as Governor Strickland did on multiple occasions, go against the recommendation of the Parole Board legally.  However, it’s not unheard of for the Parole Board’s recommendation being used to give the Governor some political cover to not grant clemency in a high-profile case.

Generally speaking, pardons have typically only been granted after a person has successfully completed all aspects of their sentence in Ohio, too.  Williams-Bolar best bet is probably a commutation of the sentence first.  But again, the sentence she received was minimal compared to the potential penalties she faced. 

In the end, there is no real legal standard for any of this.  In fact, the Parole Board isn’t bound to treat its prior rulings on similar applications as precedent at all.  But the granting of clemency is an incredibly rare thing, as is the Ohio Parole Board favorably recommending it.  According to its own report, in 2009, the Parole Board only made favorable recommendations in less than 11% of the applications it received, and most of those favorable recommendations were applications for pardons in which the applicant had gone decades since their conviction with no subsequent charges.

However, all is not lost for Williams-Bolar.  I couldn’t locate a copy of the story, but I’m almost positive that as he was leaving office, Governor Strickland pardoned at least one person whose conviction would have kept them out of the military.

If correct, Kasich would have some precedent for pardoning Williams-Bolar in order to remove any risk of her convictions jeopardizing her teaching license (a risk that I believe is overstated.)

The question is what will the Parole Board do and is Kasich prepared to go against their recommendation and pardon her anyways?  Stay tuned!

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  • Anonymous

    You again? Man, you need to get a life! What’s hateful about this post? I’m just pointing out the sheer ignornance of the Governor on the Constitution.

  • You are, as usual quite correct.

  • Williams-Bolar has no right to expect special treatment, or a pardon, or whatever. She BROKE THE LAW. She is no Rosa Parks and this isn’t Selma, AL. As modern has pointed out ad nauseum, She had choices. She chose to break the law. This had nothing to do with color, and everything to do with geography and a sense of entitlement.

  • Anonymous

    Kelley Williams-Bolar knew the consequences of her actions and chose to ignore them. If she is, indeed, an education major at the University of Akron, then she was informed in writing by the curriculum guide governing her coursework that a positive BCI background check was required to obtain a teaching certificate in Ohio.

    I rather doubt that she is (or was) an education major, though. In one of her many pro se lawsuits filed in Federal court alleging age and racial discrimination by the Summit County Prosecutor and Copley-Fairlawn Schools, her written expression was torturous and reasoning unsupported. I suspect that she does not have the requisite verbal skills to pass the PRAXIS exam.

    Besides, she did not enroll her daughters in Copley-Fairlawn schools for a better education. She said in court and repeatedly states that she feared for her daughters’ safety and did not want them to be latchkey children.

    First, if her neighborhood is so unsafe, why didn’t she move to Copley or Fairlawn? Low cost housing, even subsidized housing, is available in those towns.

    Second, I , a single mom, used to live in her neighborhood, and my son would have attended the public school which her daughters should have attended. The YMCA provides no-cost after-school care for students at that school. That school is also located about 4 blocks from the school at which Williams-Bolar worked.

    Williams-Bolar wanted the bragging rights that her children attended Copley schools without any of the necessary sacrifice.

  • Anonymous

    As infuriated as I am about Kelley Williams-Bolar, I find it amusing that a law-and-order type like John Kasich wants to circumvent the Ohio judicial system, Ohio laws and even the Ohio Constitution to pardon her. I hope that the conservative Republicans and misled moderate Democrats who voted for him are hanging their heads in shame.

    I gotta say it: John Kasich makes Sarah Palin and Boob Taft look like wise statesmen.

  • I don’t have all the information or all the details of this, so I won’t suppose to know what she knew or guess on what she could have done. Wanting a better education for her children is my best guess, though I wasn’t meaning to say that I knew what her motivation was. Even though she didn’t say that a better education was her reason for doing this in court, doesn’t mean it was not part of why she did this. But honestly it’s a waste of time to make guesses, no matter how educated they may be.

    I think we can all agree that there is disparity between different school systems, which was one of my points. My other point is that, whether or not she knew she was breaking the law, I don’t believe her actions deserve felony convictions which affect a persons life in perpetuity. I personally believe they often amount to cruel and unusual punishment, especially in cases like this. Arguments that “she knew so she should suffer the consequences” ignore the fact that people who commit crimes are still people and allow us to see them as something less than.

  • Anonymous

    Again, Chris, she has said REPEATEDLY that this isn’t about her desire to get a better education for her children. Explicitly. Stop pretending we can’t tell if it was or not… we know because she’s told us so.

    She knew she was breaking the law. She had opportunities after being told, point blank, that she was breaking the law to rectify the situation without being criminal prosecuted. She refused.

    Who isn’t seeing her as a person? She only got ten days in jail and will only have to do six months of the two years in probation she was sentenced. That’s hardly a cruel and unusual punishment for being convicted of two third-degree felonies in Ohio.

    The court gave her a sentence that showed significant sympathy to the woman, but not to the point to totally disregard that she was an unrepetent person who committed multiple felonies. I think the sentence was just.

  • OK, I overlooked or simply missed where she REPEATEDLY said it wasn’t a desire for a better education for her children. Honestly I’m not addressing the specifics of this case. I’m speaking more on the general subjects that this case brings up. Again, felony charges carry with them more than just prison time, and I was not saying anyone in particular is not seeing her as a person, but that people with felonies in general are treated as less than human. Felony charges directly effect your future opportunities for the rest of your life. It’s easy to say someone knows what the consequences of their actions are. It’s one thing to mentally know something and another to actually experience it. And it’s just like saying people who are collecting unemployment are lazy, it’s the easiest thing to say when you don’t have to live through it.

    And as far as this particular case, I don’t think she should be without punishment, I just don’t think what she did calls for multiple felonies.

  • Anonymous

    Then ask the GA to change the law.

    Regardless, this won’t haunt her the rest of her life. Don’t be so melodramatic. The reality is that three years after she successfully completes her probation, if she keeps her record clean the whole matter can be expunged, which the judge who sentenced her said she’d be willing to do, which is why she’s only going to have to do six months of probation as opposed to two years.

  • Anonymous

    Not that I’m aware of. But it’s not surprising that there might be petitions that the Parole board didn’t take action on before Strickland left office. The fact that this might take years is probably an exaggeration, but I doubt that Kasich would make it as much of a priority as Strickland did.

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