Gregoire issues first pardons since Lakewood shootings

Governors have become cautious about pardons in recent years, and that was before the shooting of four Lakewood officers at the hands of a parolee from Arkansas.
Governors have become cautious about pardons in recent years, and that was before the shooting of four Lakewood officers at the hands of a parolee from Arkansas.

This item has been updated to correct the number of pending leniency requests before the governor; a larger number had been given based on an e-mailed list sent from the governor's office that contained some cases that are not before the governor.

Last month, Gov. Chris Gregoire pardoned three Washington convicts, including two who faced deportation.

These were Gregoire's first pardons since October of last year, prior to the murders of four Lakewood police officers at the hands of an Arkansas parolee.

Gregoire's office didn't alert the media to these acts of leniency and has never issued pardon press releases during her two terms in office. Pardons and commutations are done quietly.

The latest beneficiaries are:

  • Jose Lopez Dominguez, who was convicted of cocaine possession in 1998. According to the pardon, Dominguez was an illegal farm worker in the Yakima Valley who was seeking citizenship through an amnesty program. One morning, plainclothes deputies raided his cabin and found a small pouch of cocaine. The pardon calls into question the tactics of the officers who conducted the search. It also raises the possibility the cocaine belonged to Dominguez's roommate. Dominguez's supporters — including a stepson who's in law enforcement in Yakima County — say he's been a model citizen since his conviction. The pardon will prevent him from being deported and separated from his wife.
  • Many Uch drove the getaway car in a 1994 home invasion. According to the pardon, the victim was held at gunpoint and threatened with death along with her nephew and two nieces. The nephew was also physically assaulted. Uch came to Washington with his parents in 1984 as an 8-year old refugee from the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia. Since his conviction, Uch has gotten married, had a daughter, and become a community activist and business owner. But he constantly faced risk of deportation back to Cambodia because of his conviction. With the pardon, Uch will now be able to stay in Washington.
  • Linda Hofer pickpocketed a Navy sailor while dancing with him at a Seattle nightclub. She was convicted of first degree theft. Despite her conviction, Hofer attended nursing school and graduated in 2010. The pardon says: "Ms. Hofer's sole conviction twelve years ago provided the wake-up call that she needed ... As a young mother, she enrolled in a nursing program and attracted the support of faculty and students at her school for her dedication and skill."

Since 2006 Gregoire has issued 25 full pardons, two conditional pardons and two conditional commutations. She has also denied 68 requests for leniency.

Currently, Gregoire has a backlog of 21 leniency requests that have been heard by the state Clemency and Pardons Board and are now awaiting executive action.

Last month, Seattle Times reporter Jonathan Martin wrote of the reluctance of Gregoire and other governors to issue pardons, especially in the wake of the Lakewood police murders. The gunman in that tragedy, Maurice Clemmons, was an Arkansas parolee whose 100-plus-year sentence had been commuted by then-Gov. Mike Huckabee.

A slightly different version of this posting appeared on Austin Jenkins's blog, The Washington Ledge.


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