JACKSON — Attorney General Jim Hood has asked the Mississippi Supreme Court to reconsider its ruling that former Gov. Haley Barbour’s late-term pardons were valid.
In a filing late last week, Hood asked that the case be sent back to Hinds County Circuit Court.
Hood claims the Supreme Court’s March 8 decision, which effectively determined the limits on the governor’s power are not reviewable, could have lasting implications for the state.
The court had declared it would not intervene in a dispute between the executive and judicial branches. It said the determination of whether pardon applicants had met legal requirements was the sole power of the governor.
In his filing, Hood said that makes Mississippi’s the only Supreme Court in the nation to hold such a view. He argued the separation of powers doctrine does not prevent the court from reviewing whether the pardons were legal.
Hood contended in earlier arguments that some pardon recipients didn’t meet a constitutional mandate to publish their request for leniency.
In their 6-3 opinion on the pardons, the justices wrote “we are compelled to hold that — in each of the cases before us — it fell to the governor alone to decide whether the Constitution’s publication requirement was met.”
Barbour, a Republican, pardoned 198 people as his second term was ending earlier this year. The total included four convicted murderers and a robber who worked as inmate trusties at the Governor’s Mansion.
Hood — the only Democrat to hold major statewide elected office in Mississippi — had contended in arguments before the Supreme Court that the trusties and about 165 others hadn’t met the requirement that people seeking pardons must publish notices for 30 days in a newspaper.
At the heart of the dispute was Section 124 of the Mississippi Constitution, which says “no pardon shall be granted” by the governor until the convicted felon applying for the pardon publishes notice of that application for 30 days in a newspaper in or near the county where the crime was committed.
Hood contended that if ads weren’t run in daily papers every day for 30 days, or weekly newspapers once a week for five weeks, the pardons weren’t valid.
Barbour’s lawyer and the attorneys representing some pardon recipients had argued the governor’s pardon power can’t be challenged because of the separation of powers for different branches of government.