A new state legislative review says Gov. Rick Perry has the power to issue posthumous pardons — and should issue one in the case of Fort Worth’s Tim Cole.
This year, a state judge exonerated Cole, who died in prison in 1999, of raping a Texas Tech student. DNA tests cleared him of the crime, and his family wants the governor to formally pardon him.
State Sen. Rodney Ellis, D-Houston, said Wednesday that a new report from the Texas Legislative Council shows that the governor has power to issue that posthumous pardon.
Perry, who has supported the family’s effort to get a pardon, has maintained that an old state attorney general’s ruling dictates that he must first have authority from Texans — through a constitutional amendment — to sign off on such a document.
My take on this is simple. Lege Council has given Governor Perry plenty of cover to say it's legal to issue Tim Cole a posthumous pardon and go ahead and do so.
The very worst that could happen is that, if somebody sued (and in this case, no one with standing has threatened to sue or has any reason to do so) sometime down the line, perhaps years from now when he's not even in office, the courts could later say "no." If all that happens and some future court disagrees with the Lege Council's interpretation, so be it. By that time the full Legislature will meet again and they can pass a constitutional amendment all nice and formal like.
It's the right thing to do, it will give the family solace, and it will show that Texas cares about the reputation of the innocent people it has exonerated.
Governor Perry, Pardon Timothy Cole!