Part three of our exclusive interview with District Attorney and Republican Gubernatorial Candidate George Brauchler focuses on Governor John Hickenlooper's decision to pardon a criminal immigrant to stop his deportation.Rene Lima-Marin was sentenced to 97 years in prison after he was convicted on armed-robbery charges in the 1990s. A clerical error led to Marin being released decades early from prison. When authorities finally realized the mistake, he was re-apprehended an incarcerated for the remainder of his sentence. A Federal judge intervened this year and ruled that the practice of releasing and then re-incarcerating someone qualified as cruel and unusual punishment and ordered Rene Lima-Marin to be released. Being a foreign national with a significant criminal record, Federal authorities announced their intention to deport Lima-Marin as soon as he was released from prison. Gov. Hickenlooper then intervened and decided to use his pardon pen for the first time to clear Rene Lima-Marin and hopefully block his deportation.
We asked George Brauchler what he thought about Gov. Hickenlooper's decision to intervene. Obviously, you are aware of the Rene Lima-Marin case - a man who was sentenced to almost a century for armed robbery and then pardoned by Gov. Hickenlooper for political reasons. Do you think that Governor Hickenlooper should have used his pardon power to try and stop the Federal government from deporting him? No, I dont. There's three aspects of that decision that I find offensive and should be offensive to other Coloradans. First off, he granted the pardon in violation of the Constitution and the applicable law. He did not provide us, or the victims, with the appropriate notice that he even intended to potentially grant a pardon. Aside from that, he grants a pardon to the guy and, in doing so, it's the first pardon he's ever granted in six and a half years in office. He's now put that guy in a position to have the same criminal history you and I have; a guy that was convicted of three robberies, kidnapping, and theft/burglary. That's not appropriate either. Even if you look at this guy and say he ought not serve any more time in prison, you don't just wipe away his conduct for living a law-abiding life. There has to be something more than that.
But the third part is something that should be troubling to other Coloradans too - and that is the idea that the Governor exercised this authority that he has under the Constitution for the sole purpose - not of acknowledging what a great guy this is, not for the sole purpose of saying, 'hey look, you can be rehabilitated and wipe away your past' - but to do an end-run around Federal immigration law. And here's the problem with that: We are a people that are based on the rule of law. We don't think that the outcome dictates the process, we think the process dictates the outcome. So, while there were other opportunities here to pursue, I think, the Senators or Congressional delegation to ask the administration to grant a waiver or a stay of that deportation while they figured something else out, this was a Governor who rushed forward, exercised, in my opinion, recklessly, without due regard, this pardon power to try to beat Federal immigration law and that's wrong.