Connellee v. Blanton – Case Brief Summary (Texas)

In Connellee v. Blanton, 163 S.W. 404 (Tex.Civ.App.-Fort Worth 1913, writ ref'd), the court extended the absolute privilege recognized under the common law for statements made in judicial proceedings to petitions to the Governor requesting pardons.

In Connellee, plaintiff's petition, a letter applying to the Governor for a pardon, complained that a district judge had changed the venue of the defendant's case for the purpose of making the costs excessive. Id. at 405.

The Connellee court also recognized two classes of privilege, qualified and absolute, that might apply but determined the petition was subject to an absolute privilege because it was an extension of the judicial proceedings whereby the person sought to be pardoned was convicted. Id. at 407.

The Connellee court held:

"the same principle of public policy which supports the absolute privilege extended to judicial proceedings applies with equal force in favor of petitions to the Governor of the state for the exercise of the pardoning power, a power superior to that of the court which rendered the judgment of conviction. If the judicial proceedings which culminated in the conviction were absolutely privileged, why should not the same immunity be extended to the petition to a higher power to annul that judgment, in part?" Id.