Actual Innocence. Setting Aside a Jury Verdict and Criminal Conviction. What is required for a Pardon in North Carolina?
Twenty-seven years behind bars: 9,855 days, 236,520 hours, 14,191,200 minutes locked away in a prison. . .all the while being completely innocent of the charges levied. That’s what happened to Edward McInnis.
He was accused by law enforcement of a heinous crime. The Office of the District Attorney at the time reviewed the evidence and prosecuted. At trial, twelve members of the community found Mr. McInnis Guilty Beyond a Reasonable Doubt. Afterward the Court Entered Judgment, Committing Mr. McInnis to Prison for what was supposed to be the rest of his life.
And then it happened. DNA cleared Mr. McInnis and a Superior Court Judge in North Carolina was rendered, in large part, speechless.
I wish I had something profound to say… there is nothing. I am a judge; I am not God. – Superior Court Judge Tanya Wallace
Pardons are rarely granted
In North Carolina the power to Pardon comes from Article III of the State Constitution. The power vests in the Governor of North Carolina under Article III, Section 5, Subsection (6) of the North Carolina State Constitution. The Governor may grant:
- “For All Offenses” except for Impeachment
- Upon such conditions as s/he may think proper
- Subject to prescribed law(s) in applying for Pardons
Types of Pardons in North Carolina:
- Pardon of Forgiveness. Most Frequent request. Essentially forgiven a crime committed.
- Pardon of Innocence. Only granted after conviction where charges are later dismissed. Normally applies to wrongful convictions.
- Unconditional Pardon. Normally sought to restore the right to own a gun (firearm).
Different than Expunction
- Expunction or “expungements” are provided for under North Carolina General Statutes
- Destruction of a Criminal Record
- Court Ordered
It Will Cost North Carolina
- N.C.G.S. 148-84
- $50,000 per year incarcerated
- $750,000 total amount
- Awarded by the Industrial Commission
- May also seek other remedies under possible civil causes of action