Pubdate: Mon, 18 Nov 2013
Source: Salt Lake Tribune (UT)
Copyright: 2013 The Salt Lake Tribune


This injustice is worthy of clemency.

We didn't think Rocky Anderson and Jake Garn could agree on mom and 
apple pie, let alone pardoning a convicted felon sent to prison on 
drug and gun charges.

But there it is, both of their signatures on a letter to President 
Obama asking that Weldon Angelos' 55-year sentence be commuted. The 
letter is not the first effort to free Angelos, who has been in 
federal prison since 2004 after he was convicted in federal court in 
Utah for selling $350 worth of marijuana while in possession of a 
firearm. Because of federal mandatory-minimum sentencing guidelines, 
the judge had no choice but to put a man in his early 20s with no 
prior adult record in prison until he was a senior citizen.

Civil rights advocates have been fighting this case for more than a 
decade as one of the least justifiable outcomes of mandatory 
minimums. What's different about this letter is the sweeping cross 
section represented in the 114 people who signed it. Rocky and Jake 
not an odd enough couple for you? How about Norm Bangerter and Bonnie Raitt?

Angelos was a budding music producer with a wife and two small 
children when he did the deed. His cause has attracted the attention 
of musicians like Raitt, Graham Nash and Napoleon, a former bandmate 
of Tupac Shakur who is now a motivational speaker. Celebrities aside, 
the signers also include former FBI Director William Sessions, 29 
former U.S. attorneys, 10 former judges, four former governors 
(including Bangerter) and two former members of Congress (including Garn).

Angelos clearly broke the law, and he didn't help himself when he 
rejected a plea that would have kept the sentence at 15 years. 
Instead he went to trial, where he argued that he didn't have a gun 
during the marijuana sales. There was no evidence that he had showed 
a weapon during the drug deals, but authorities maintained he was 
carrying one. They had found guns in a search of his home.

Even the judge handing down the sentence admitted it was wrong but 
required under sentencing rules. The decision from U.S. District 
Judge Paul Cassell (now a University of Utah law professor) said the 
sentence was "unjust, cruel and irrational," and he took the unusual 
step of recommending the president (then George W. Bush) commute the 
sentence. But it's never happened.

"The extraordinary injustice of Mr. Angelos's sentence cannot be 
undone by a change in prosecutorial charging practices," the letter 
states. "Instead, it requires the President to exercise his explicit 
power under the Pardon Clause of the U.S. Constitution."

We'll stand with Bonnie, Norm, Jake and Rocky on this one. Give 
Weldon Angelos a pardon.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom