George Brauchler: Hickenlooper acted outside of law on Rene Lima-Marin pardon

Posted at 11:06 PM, May 19, 2017
and last updated 2017-05-20 20:48:19-04

DENVER -- While Governor Hickenlooper said Friday’s pardon of Rene Lima-Marin was only fair, 18th Judicial District Attorney George Brauchler argued the governor violated the law.

"It took them [the victims] two years to be able to sleep again. They are still haunted by the trauma of these events," Brauchler told Denver7.

That's the reality for the victims of two men, Rene Lima-Marin included, convicted of violent crimes years ago, Brauchler said adding he should have had the chance to notify the victims that Lima-Marin might go free.

"They're gonna find out through social media. They're gonna find out through their neighbors. Through your television show that this guy that victimized them is no longer a convicted felon."

Hickenlooper pardoned Lima-Marin of his past crimes Friday afternoon. Lima-Marin had turned his life around and started a family after being released from prison by mistake. The Cuban refugee, who fled at a young age, is now held by ICE.

"I see why there's a motivation to help out these kids and a wife who are clearly victims of this situation, far more than Lima-Marin is. But those things don't justify doing an end run around state and federal law."

Brauchler said there is a line of people more deserving of a pardon that Hickenlooper skipped over to help this one man.

"What authority do you have to do that and two why did you do it?" said Brauchler of Hickenlooper's decision.

The Governor's office and Brauchler’s office were working on shortening Lima-Marin’s sentence through a commutation application. But the process was considered null and void, according to Brauchler, once a judge freed him from prison this week.

Part of the commutation process includes consulting and notifying victims. But Brauchler believes the Governor should have been more transparent with Lima-Marin's victims and especially, should have followed the state-required process in including his office in the pardon application.

On Saturday, Governor Hickenlooper's office sent the following statement: 

The Governor’s Office solicited input from the District Attorney’s Office and received input within the fourteen days required by statute. In fact, the Governor’s Office of Legal Counsel received a lengthy response from Mr. Brauchler’s Chief Deputy District Attorney on Mr. Brauchler’s letterhead, dated May 15, 2017.  It is common to receive responses from attorneys in the office other than the elected District Attorney.  The Chief Deputy District Attorney’s response included, among other things, input from the victims, which the Governor carefully considered.

In addition, the Governor’s Office of Legal Counsel reached out to the prosecuting attorney, who is now a magistrate.  He indicated through a representative that he did not wish to weigh in on the clemency application.  

The Governor has broad discretion under the Colorado Constitution to grant pardons and may waive the requirement that an applicant wait for certain periods of time before applying for a pardon.  Lima-Marin was released in 2008 and successfully completed parole. Chief Judge Samour recently found that any subsequent confinement was unlawful.  While we typically ask applicants to wait seven years after completing their sentence before applying for a pardon, we made an exception in this case because of the gross injustice Chief Judge Samour and others identified.  

Mr. Lima-Marin asked for a pardon or, in the alternative, a commutation of his sentence. The pardon request is clearly stated in a letter from his attorney, which is included in the clemency packet. The redacted application provided to media is only part of the complete application.