General Counsel – Executive Clemency Files, 1996-2015
Texas Governor Rick Perry:
An Inventory of Governor Rick Perry General Counsel Executive Clemency Files at the Texas State Archives, 1996-2015
|Scope and Contents
Creator: Texas. Governor (2000-2015 : Perry)
Title: Governor Rick Perry General Counsel executive clemency files
Abstract: These are clemency applications presented to Texas Governor Rick Perry by his General Counsel’s office for prisoners or convicted felons out on parole wishing a pardon, asking to have their sentence commuted, asking for an emergency medical reprieve, or asking for a pardon/commutation under Senate Concurrent Resolution 26 (passed by the 72nd Texas Legislature, R.S. in 1991). Types of records include individual offenders’ files, compiled charts and proclamations, and correspondence, dating 1996-2015. Also included are select records dating from Governor George W. Bush’s term as governor. Records in this series are in both paper and electronic format and include one VHS videocasette.
Quantity: 6 cubic ft. and 46.6 MB (1,256 files)
Repository: Texas State Archives
Other Finding Aids
A description of non-electronic records described in this finding aid is available at https://txarchives.org/tslac/finding_aids/50121.xml.
Arrangement of the records
These records are arranged within three groups: individual offenders, compiled charts and proclamations, and correspondence. Individual offender files are arranged as received while compiled charts and proclamations and correspondence are arranged chronologically within each group.
- Executive clemency files, 1996-2015, 6 cubic ft. and 46.6 MB (1,256 files) (paper, digital)(Restricted)
The General Counsel position within the Texas Office of the Governor was created in October 1973 when the Executive Director of the Governor’s Criminal Justice Division appointed an individual as General Counsel, to assist him in providing statute interpretations and in other matters relating to policies and procedures. Today the Office of the General Counsel is a separate division in the Governor’s Office.
Duties of the General Counsel include providing statute interpretations; tracking inmates on death row as their cases move through the judicial process including all appeals to the governor for commutations or stays of execution; handling pardon requests sent to the governor; reviewing proposed settlements, land patents, grant requests, contracts, easements, and deeds for the governor; analyzing proposed legislation and regulations for validity and legal effect; assisting appointments staff in determining eligibility and other legal issues related to proposed appointments; handling extradition and requisition matters; coordinating ethics guidelines and training for the governor’s office; advising the governor on federal programs administered by the state; coordinating the governor’s criminal justice policy with the governor’s Policy Director; and providing legal advice and handling litigation filed against the governor or the Governor’s Office, in conjunction with actions of the Attorney General on the governor’s behalf.
Scope and Content of the Records
These are clemency applications presented to Texas Governor Rick Perry by his General Counsel’s office for prisoners or convicted felons out on parole wishing a pardon, asking to have their sentence commuted, asking for an emergency medical reprieve, or asking for a pardon/commutation under Senate Concurrent Resolution 26 (passed by the 72nd Texas Legislature R.S. in 1991), which requires the governor to focus special consideration upon pardon applicants whose crime arguably was a response to severe spousal abuse. Types of records include individual offenders files, compiled charts and proclamations, and correspondence, dating 1996-2015. Also included are select records dating from Governor George W. Bush’s term as governor. Records in this series are in both paper and electronic format and include one VHS videocassette.
Records for individual offenders include a pardon application tracking form; an executive summary from the General Counsel (GC) to Governor Perry stating a summary of the facts, evidence, proceedings, the Board of Pardons and Paroles (BPP) recommendation, the GC recommendation, and the governor’s decision to deny or grant (initialed by the governor); or memos with facts about the applicant, excluding voting information. Also present may be notes about the case, pardon proclamations, correspondence of trial officials and attorneys with the governor and/or the BPP court records, BPP voting summaries, BPP case file materials, Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) inmate records, criminal histories, law enforcement records, press releases, clippings, and petitions for pardons based on innocence, such as DNA testing in old rape cases that exonerates the inmate. The petitions often include medical reports, crime summaries (which may include the name of a rape victim), victim impact statements, etc.; most of those materials are confidential as are TDCJ inmate files, letters to the BPP, BPP case file material, law enforcement records, and criminal histories. Not every individual offender file will include all of these documents, depending on the level of completeness. Individual offender files also vary in whether GC staff included the inmate number and date of pardon on folder titles for paper records. Files of prisoners denied pardons usually have only the pardon application tracking form, a voting memo, notes, and/or the executive summary from the GC to the governor. The majority of the electronic records related to individual offender files include drafts of the GC summary to the governor, individual proclamations, and correspondence to individuals regarding who to contact for clemency proceedings.
Compiled charts and proclamations include records created by GC’s staff to track applications and determine final decisions. Voting memos are present for most cases and often list multiple cases in one document. These memos were sent to the governor and contain a minimum of facts about the case with the GC’s recommendation (deny/grant). Usually multiple cases are filed together under the date the pardon was denied with all such cases being listed on the governor’s voting memo.
Correspondence includes letters sent to the BPP, TDCJ, staff of the GC’s office, the Attorney General’s office, appeals courts, district attorneys, inmates or their attorneys, and family and friends of victims and of the inmates.
Corresponding electronic records are located at the end of the inventory for each subgroup. Formats of the original electronic files include word processing files (.doc, .docx), spreadsheets (.xls, .xlsx), databases (.mdb), and PDFs. Digital files presented for public use will generally be PDF for text documents or spreadsheets. Files in their original format are available on request; restrictions may apply. Electronic records described in this finding aid that are part of the Texas Digital Archive are indicated as such in the inventory. Restrictions on access to the content of records are applicable to physical and electronic records.
To prepare this inventory, the described materials were cursorily reviewed to delineate series, to confirm the accuracy of contents lists, to provide an estimate of dates covered, and to determine record types.
Restrictions and Requirements
Restrictions on Access
Records described in this finding aid may contain information that is confidential under the Texas Public Information Act (PIA) (Texas Government Code, Chapter 552) or other statutes. Restricted information, as outlined in the statutes, applies to both physical and electronic records. As laws change, statutory restrictions may be added to or removed from these records. See our Texas Public Information Act and Researching in the State Archives web page for the more common types of restrictions found in state government records.
Requests for materials held within the State Archives, whether a Research Request or Public Information Act Request, must be submitted via this form: https://www.tsl.texas.gov/sites/default/files/public/tslac/ref/Texas_State_Archive_Material_Request_Form.pdf. A Research Request is sufficient for requesting most State Archives materials. While a PIA Request is always an option, a PIA Request for State Archives materials is required only if a researcher does not agree to the redaction or removal of restricted government information (see: Texas Gov’t Code Chapter 552).
For further assistance with accessing materials within the State Archives, contact the Reference Desk: firstname.lastname@example.org or 512-463-5455.
Restrictions on Use
Most records created by Texas state agencies are not copyrighted. State records also include materials received by, not created by, state agencies. Copyright remains with the creator. The researcher is responsible for complying with U.S. Copyright Law (Title 17 U.S.C.).
The following materials are offered as possible sources of further information on the agencies and subjects covered by the records. The listing is not exhaustive.
|Texas State Archives
|Texas Governor George W. Bush General Counsel executive clemency files located at the George W. Bush Presidential Library, 1961, 1965, 1968, 1974, 1983-2000, bulk 1995-2000, 1.5 cubic ft.
|Texas Governor Mark White records, 1947, 1962-1987, undated, bulk 1983-1986, 424.75 cubic ft. (see the series General Counsel files, 1947, 1962-1986, 4.3 cubic ft.)
|Texas Office of the Governor Criminal Justice Division records, 1973-1990, bulk 1987-1990, 28 cubic ft. (see the series General Counsel Executive Clemency files, 1978-1990, 5 cubic ft.)
|Texas Secretary of State executive clemency records, 1840, 1845-2009, 111.18 cubic ft., 166 reels of microfilm (originals), 21 reels of microfilm (duplicates)
|Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin
|Ann W. Richards papers, 1933-2000, about 1500 cubic ft. (specifically the General Counsel files)
|Texas A&M University
|Records of William P. Clements, 1978-1983, 663.1 cubic ft.
(Identify the item), Texas Governor Rick Perry General Counsel executive clemency files. Archives and Information Services Division, Texas State Library and Archives Commission.
Accession numbers: 2015/067, 2015/117
Paper records were transferred to the Archives and Information Services Division of the Texas State Library and Archives Commission by the Office of the Governor on December 19, 2014 through March 2015. Electronic records were transferred to the Archives and Information Services Division of the Texas State Library and Archives Commission by the Office of the Governor on January 29, 2015.
Processed by Halley Grogan, December 2015