WASHINGTON — The Mississippi Supreme Court upheld Thursday over 200 pardons issued by former governor Haley Barbour, including convicted rapists and killers.
Democratic Attorney General Jim Hood had challenged the 215 pardons from Barbour, a Republican whose second term ended in January. Hood said Barbour's pardons did not stand up to the state's constitution, which requires requests for pardons to be made public 30 days in advance.
"We are compelled to hold that -- in each of the cases before us -- it fell to the governor alone to decide whether the Constitution's publication requirement was met," the justices wrote in their opinion.
But Hood said the families of the victims of the pardoned convicts would suffer from the decision.
"It is these victims and family members who have lost today and the criminals who have won," he said.
The state attorney general said he would seek to amend the Mississippi constitution "to make it very clear that the judicial branch is responsible for enforcing the 30-day notification period in the future."
Among Barbour's pardon spree during his last days in office were 26 people in custody, to whom Barbour granted 10 full pardons, 13 medical releases, one suspension of sentence, one conditional and indefinite suspension of sentence and one conditional clemency.
There were 14 convicted murderers among those pardoned.