Criminal JusticeIssuesTexas Parole Board Withdraws 25 Clemency Recommendations, Including George Floyd

A defense attorney sought to have George Floyd posthumously pardoned for a 2004 drug offense.
December 27, 2021
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On December 23, the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles withdrew 25 recommendations for clemency due to “unexplained departures from its own rules.” One of the cases that had been submitted to Governor Greg Abbott for his consideration was a drug charge in 2004 to which George Floyd pleaded guilty.

Renae Eze, press secretary for the Office of the Governor, explained in a press release that Floyd’s pardon was one of 25 clemency recommendations the board withdrew due to “procedural errors and lack of compliance with Board rules.” 

“Among the recommendations withdrawn was one concerning George Floyd. The Board will review and resolve procedural errors and issues related to any pending applications in compliance with their rules,” Eze said.

“As a result of the Board’s withdrawal of the recommendation concerning George Floyd, Governor Abbott did not have the opportunity to consider it. Governor Abbott will review all recommendations that the Board submits for consideration.”

Earlier this year, a jury in Hennepin County, Minnesota, convicted Derek Chauvin, a former Minneapolis police officer, of murdering Floyd on Memorial Day last year. Chauvin suffocated Floyd by kneeling on his neck during an arrest.

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An attorney with the Houston Public Defender’s Office, Allison Mathis, had requested clemency for Floyd in April of this year, and the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles unanimously recommended a pardon in October. 

According to the Associated Press, Mathis accused Abbott of making a politically motivated decision ahead of the GOP primary for governor, which is scheduled for March 1, 2022.

Floyd, who grew up in Houston, pleaded guilty to delivering less than one gram of cocaine in 2004, a crime for which he served 10 months in the state jail. The parole board recommended clemency on this count, though the drug charge was not Floyd’s only criminal conviction.

According to court records, a state district judge sentenced him to five years in prison after he pleaded guilty to committing aggravated robbery with a deadly weapon, which is a first-degree felony. Floyd was 32 years old when he robbed Aracely Henriquez at gunpoint in August 2007.

In a letter to James Sullivan, general counsel in the governor’s office, the presiding officer of the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles, David Gutiérrez, indicated that the board recommended 67 individuals for clemency, which broke a 20-year record and prompted a review of the process that led to the decisions.

“The results of the examination has revealed that the Board made a number of unexplained departures from its own rules in issuing many of its 2021 recommendations, e.g., Board Rule sections 143.2, 143.6, 143.10,” Gutiérrez explained.

Noting that the parole board’s rules may need to be changed, Gutiérrez went on to ask that the governor permit the board to “withdraw and reconsider” the slate of recommendations.

Meanwhile, Gerald Goines, the police officer who reportedly arranged the drug bust that resulted in Floyd’s arrest, has been indicted for murder and other felonies. Goines is accused of murdering a husband and wife during a botched drug raid, accusations that he has denied.

Harris County prosecutors have charged Goines with two counts of murder, one count of engaging in organized criminal activity, four counts of tampering with a governmental record, and one count of theft.

It has been reported that Floyd would be only the second person in the history of Texas to receive a posthumous pardon. His murder spurred protests during the summer of 2020 that often deteriorated to riots and other violence.

A copy of Gutiérrez’s letter to Sullivan can be found below.

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Hayden Sparks

Hayden Sparks is a reporter for The Texan. He has coached high school competitive speech and debate and has also been involved in community theater and politics. A native Texan, Hayden served as a delegate at the Republican Party of Texas Convention in 2016. He is on track to receive a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Liberty University. In his free time, Hayden is known to take walks around the neighborhood while listening to random music on Spotify.