BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) — In an opinion issued Wednesday by Attorney General Jeff Landry, he concluded that the Louisiana Board of Pardons and Parole shouldn’t waive the one-year eligibility period for inmates’ clemency requests.
East Baton Rouge Parish District Attorney Hillar Moore recently raised concerns about processes after several area convicted inmates filed applications asking for clemency from Gov. John Bel Edwards. He said the applications were a surprise to district attorneys and community members.
His July 12 letter said applications are being rushed ahead of Edwards’ term ending in January and requested information about application review procedures and how they were scheduled for further consideration.
The board responded in a July 14 letter explaining their normal process of application review, which includes setting applications for review the following month if received before the 16th day of the month. Francis Abbott III, the board’s executive director, said 51 of the 56 applications were received on June 13, meaning that the regular process would be to review those applications in July.
He said the board normally gets and reviews an average of 35 applications each month.
“Due to the volume of these capital filings, considering all of them in July was not deemed feasible or appropriate. Even though we are unable to review all capital filings in July, I believe it is important to process applications as quickly as possible,” said Abbott.
He added that the board is not required to notify district attorneys or victims during the review process “but decided to as our Board felt it important to have involvement from all its stakeholders as early in this process as possible.”
In a July 19 letter, Moore acknowledges the attorney general’s opinions are “advisory and are not binding law,” yet he believes it gives validity to his concerns.
In East Baton Rouge Parish, Moore said that only one of the two death penalty verdicts remains on death row. The district attorney sent a letter to the board on July 17 objecting to the clemency application of David Bowie, a man convicted and sentenced to death in the murder of John “Fish Man” Smith, 70, in 1999.
Bowie’s application is scheduled to be reviewed by the board on July 28. Moore said for Bowie to be eligible for clemency application, he must have filed within one year of his sentence becoming final.
Moore said Bowie “does not deserve the grace of being granted clemency, his application is untimely and must be dismissed as such.”
The district attorney’s office said no execution date has been set for Bowie, citing that as another reason why he does not have grounds to seek clemency.