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September 21, 2007 - November Coalition (US)

Report: Richard Paey Is Free!

By John Chase, November Coalition

Return to Drug War News: Don't Miss Archive

Richard Paey is finally back home tonight after 3.5 years in prison.

I want to thank everyone for letters, phone calls, faxes, emails to Governor Crist and the Florida Clemency Board. We know for a fact that Crist alone received 50 letters.

Please know that such communications have a HUGE impact.

I attended the meeting in Tallahassee Thursday morning. My notes on the meeting are appended below as text.

Tallahassee, FL: 20 Sept 2007

Richard Paey's petition for sentence commutation was first on the agenda of the Sept 20th quarterly meeting of Florida's Clemency Board in the Capitol in Tallahassee. The meeting began at 9AM.

There were 83 petitioners, including 45 for restoration of civil rights and 31 for pardons. The room was packed with petitioners, their families, friends, and some lawyers. The Parole Board had recommended against Richard Paey's petition for sentence commutation.

Although Richard's petition was for commutation, Governor Crist granted a full pardon upon hearing the Paey family speak, before asking other members of the Clemency Board for comment.

Although "clemency" suggests the petitioner is remorseful and has been rehabilitated, Linda's lawyer, John Flannery, took a hard line. He said the prosecution was wrong from the start, that Richard was trying to treat his pain only because no medical professional would help him. He spoke to educate the Board and the audience that opiates do not do what people think they do.

He mentioned, for instance, that he'd talked to Richard the night before and found him to be lucid and rational even though he receives massive doses of morphine from his implanted pump. He spoke for about 15 minutes.

Then Linda, her 3 teenagers and one co-worker, spoke. It was a highly emotional moment. After Crist's ruling, and comments by other Board members, the room erupted into thunderous applause, even though they had sat almost 30 minutes waiting to be heard themselves.

Linda's entourage, smiling, laughing, crying, filed out into the hallway so others could present their own cases to the Clemency Board. In the hallway the family was mobbed by reporters and photographers.

As the interviews wound down, John Flannery was arranging for Linda to drive to the prison near Daytona Beach to pick him up. One thing she wanted to do first was to buy non-heeled shoes to make sure the prison lets her in. A nearby Capitol security guard told her where to buy them.

Tonight's news reports say Richard Paey is back home in Hudson, Florida. Finally, finally, after more than 3 years in prison, and 10 years total struggling against Florida's criminal justice system.

After Crist spoke out to grant Richard's pardon, Charles Bronson (Secretary of Agriculture) spoke in agreement and mentioned that police are put in a difficult position, considering what the law says.

Bill McCollum (Attorney General) agreed that the problem is the law. Alex Sink (Chief Financial Officer) didn't comment. Even McCollum came on board when Crist took a vote. It was 4 - 0.

John Chase
Palm Harbor, FL

Advisor, November Coalition,
Supporter, Families Against Mandatory Minimums (FAMM),
Supporter, Pain Relief Network,

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