Tag Archives: grimes

Presidential Pardon Not Enough for Tennessean to Buy Guns

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (AP) — An Athens man, who was pardoned by President Barack Obama of a petty crime committed more than a half-century ago still can’t own handguns.
Roy Grimes received word on March 1 that the president had pardoned him for altering a $41 money order in December 1960 and depositing it. The 72-year-old Grimes had asked for the pardon, partly because he likes classic Western heroes and wanted to collect the weapons they used.
According to the Chattanooga Times Free Press (http://bit.ly/11gwE0r), Grimes’ attorney, Patrick Noel, checked with the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation and was told there is no provision for restoring the handgun ownership rights of someone convicted of a crime. Not even a presidential pardon changes that.
The TBI said the Tennessee Code Annotated, 39-17-1307(c)(1), states “A person commits an offense who possesses a handgun and has been convicted of a felony.”
The statute says nothing about restoring gun ownership rights, by pardon or by any other means.
There is disagreement on the issue.
Former Assistant U.S. Attorney General Walter Dellinger wrote on the same issue in 1995 that a state cannot deny someone’s right to own a firearm if the president has pardoned that person. Dellinger wrote that the U.S. Constitution allows presidents the right to pardon people who have been convicted and the Supremacy Clause declares states cannot override the federal government.
The TBI, however, cites a state statute passed in 2008 — 26-0 in the Senate and 87-3 in the House — that opposes the opinion.
“The state law changed since the opinion was rendered in 1995,” TBI spokeswoman Kristin Helm wrote in an email. “Mr. Grimes received his pardon after that law was passed.”
The conclusion astounded Margaret Love, the U.S. pardon attorney from 1990-97.
“How could that possibly make any difference?” Love asked. “The holding of the opinion is that a presidential pardon removes automatic disabilities imposed by state law based on the pardoned conviction. Period.”
A similar case id now before the Tennessee Court of Appeals. It involves the 1989 conviction in Georgia of David Blackwell on three felony drug offenses. He was later pardoned by a Georgia governor and moved to Tennessee, where he also found he couldn’t get a handgun.
Tennessee Attorney General Robert Cooper weighed in with a 2009 opinion that a felon can’t have a handgun in Tennessee, pardon or not.
Blackwell’s attorney, David Raybin, asks what’s the point of a pardon?
“They’re saying it’s worthless,” Raybin said. “They’re saying it’s just a piece of paper. That’s it.”

Athens Man Tells About Presidential Pardon

A money order for $40.83 cost Roy Grimes more than he could have ever imagined, reports the News Sentinel..
After living 52 years as a felon for altering the payee’s name and then cashing a money order he and a friend came across back in 1960, Grimes feels that his debt has been paid. Now, he has the documentation to prove it.
On March 1, Grimes was in his Athens, Tenn., home when he received a phone call from his lawyer, Patrick Noel, who informed him that his request for a presidential pardon had been approved.
“I told him, ‘Hallelujah!’ ” said a smiling Grimes on Friday after getting his first look at the pardon. “It’s been a real albatross for me.”
Grimes, 72, has lived his entire adult life under the impression that he would never be able to vote or buy a gun because of the conviction he received as a 20-year-old. That was until three years ago, when he came across the possibility of getting a presidential pardon.
He began recounting his life’s journey in the 20-page application that eventually turned into 40 pages.
“He was very meticulous about his pardon application, which really showed and helped,” Noel said of his client. “He, if anybody, deserves a pardon.”
Unfortunately for Grimes, the decision wasn’t Noel’s to make. So after six months of perfecting his application Grimes mailed it to President Barack Obama’s Office of Pardon Attorney in August 2010.
There was no word on the status for more than 2½ years. Then came the March 1 phone call.

Three Tennesseans Among 17 Pardoned by Obama

Donna Kaye Wright was a bookkeeper at the former Bank of Friendship in Crockett County and attended the town’s United Methodist Church, but the Commercial Appeal says little more is known about her except Friday she got a presidential pardon.
Wright, 63, who was sentenced to serve just 54 days on federal charges she embezzled and misapplied bank funds, was given the rare presidential clemency in an announcement late Friday afternoon by the White House. Sixteen others, including people from Athens and Chattanooga, in Tennessee, got pardons.
And this from the Chattanooga Times-Free Press:
A Chattanoogan and an Athens, Tenn., native were among 17 people who were pardoned Friday by President Barack Obama on Friday, largely for minor offenses
Donald Barrie Simon Jr., of Chattanooga, had been sentenced to two years in prison and three years of probation for aiding and abetting in the theft of an interstate shipment.
Roy Eugene Grimes Sr., of Athens, Tenn., had sentenced to 18 months’ probation for falsely altering a U.S. postal money order, and for passing, uttering and publishing a forged and altered money order with intent to defraud.
The White House offered no details on why these particular people, or any of the other 15, were selected by Obama, who has issued relatively few pardons since taking office.
Those receiving pardons came from 13 states and had been sentenced for crimes that included falsely altering a money order, unauthorized acquisition of food stamps, drug violations, and possession of an unregistered firearm.