State Governor Pardon In Arizona
The United States Supreme Court has described the presidential pardon power precisely as an "official" act: "A pardon is . . . the private, though official act of the executive magistrate. . . ." Herrera v. Collins, 506 U.S. 390, 413, 122 L. Ed. 2d 203, 113 S. Ct. 853 (1993) (quoting Chief Justice Marshall's explication of the presidential pardon power in United States v. Wilson, 32 U.S. 150, 160-61, 8 L. Ed. 640 (1833) (mem.)
It is difficult to view former President Ford's pardon of former President Nixon as anything other than an official act.
What is true of the nation's president in federal commutation decisions is also necessarily true of the governor's state commutation decisions because the executive powers are parallel. a governor's state commutation decision mirrors the identical presidential power.
The Arizona constitution empowers solely the governor to grant or deny commutations. ARIZ. CONST. art. V, 5. a governor who delegates the investigation is not thereby relieved of the final commutation decision. See State ex rel. Ariz. St. Bd. of P. & P. v. Superior Court, 12 Ariz. App. 77, 79, 467 P.2d 917, 919 (App. 1970);
see also Woratzeck v. Arizona Bd. of Exec. Clemency, 117 F.3d 400, 403 (9th Cir. 1997) (interpreting governor's duty as "official" discretion). the discussion is truncated; it focuses on due process considerations within the context of a clemency hearing.
"All official acts of the governor, except approval of laws, shall be attested by the secretary of state." A.R.S. 41-101(B). "The governor's signature can almost be viewed as a warrant for the secretary of state to sign and seal . . .". Op. Ariz. Att'y Gen. I90-111.
If the statutory requirements for an official act trouble the governor's office, relief can be sought in the legislature. Until that happens this Court cannot soften the statutory commands in order to excuse the governor from his constitutional obligation to sign and have attested his commutation decisions. When "the plain language . . . is clear and unequivocal, we find it determinative." Barry v. Alberty, 173 Ariz. 387, 390, 843 P.2d 1279, 1282 (App. 1992).