Cornyn request commutation of border agent sentences

Houston Chronicle:

Under increasing pressure from congressional Republicans to free two imprisoned border patrol agents, President Bush is showing no sign of hurrying his decision.

White House spokeswoman Dana Perino on Wednesday sidestepped a question about Texas Sen. John Cornyn's demand that Bush commute Ignacio Ramos' 12-year sentence and Jose Compean's 11-year term. The agents were convicted of charges arising from the shooting of an unarmed drug smuggler near El Paso, and their sentences were increased because they were found guilty of committing a crime with a firearm.

"There is a process in which people in our country can ask a president of the United States for a commutation of their sentence," Perino told reporters, "and that process can take place if those individuals want it to."

Cornyn, a San Antonio Republican, led an outpouring of conservative pressure on the White House this week after the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans rejected the agents' appeal.

The senator called their trial a "clear case of prosecutorial overreach and a case where the sentence does not match the crime."

Ramos and Compean still can appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. If that fails, Bush is the only person who could shorten their sentences.

Republican lawmakers, conservative media personalities and critics of illegal immigration have made the two border patrol agents' case a cause celebre. They say the agents were acting in self-defense against a dangerous drug smuggler who had illegally entered the U.S.

...

I think the President should pardon them or commute their sentences. Their case was clearly one that strikes many people including myself as unjust even if it might fit in some prosecutors reading of the law. If the law is such that the bad guy is given a pass and the people trying to stop him are prosecuted, then the law is an ass in this case. These guys could have been disciplined without this kind of prosecutorial abuse.

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