By ED WHITE/Associated Press
DETROIT (AP) – After years without a driver’s license, a Bay City man asked Gov. Rick Snyder if he would wipe clean his drunken-driving offenses with a pardon. Joe Lamblin insists he’s been without alcohol since 2008 and says it’s tough to work in construction while relying on others for rides.READ MORE: Michigan Matters: From Mackinac to Motor Bella, Major Events Return
“You probably get hundreds of similar requests every year so why do I think mine should be granted? I am a different person,” Lamblin wrote in his application.
A pardon, however, was rejected in October. Snyder so far hasn’t pardoned anyone in 2015, after clearing the criminal records of 11 people last year, including the drunken-driving conviction of a lawyer who served on a state advisory board. It was the governor’s first batch of pardons among hundreds of requests since taking office in 2011.
There have been at least 92 applications received this year by the Michigan parole board, which screens them and makes recommendations. Fifty-three have been closed with no pardon granted while the others remain open, Corrections Department spokesman Chris Gautz said.
“It’s definitely a rare step,” he said.
The Associated Press broke the story of Alan Gocha’s pardon in March. His case was unusual: The parole board actually invited him to apply a second time after putting his first application on the backburner. Snyder and others in Michigan business circles know Gocha, who works as a lawyer for a major Republican Party donor, but the Corrections Department said he didn’t get special treatment.
Gocha, a $250,000-a-year attorney in suburban Detroit, said he often couldn’t travel overseas with the 2008 drunken-driving conviction on his record. Russ Marlan, a deputy director at the Corrections Department, told the AP earlier this year that the governor wants to help people whose convictions are “inhibiting them from advancing economically.”
That was Lamblin’s goal.READ MORE: Rolling Stone Magazine Named ‘Respect’ #1 Song Of All Time
He pursued a pardon after learning about Gocha’s success. He hoped a clean record would allow him to regain his driver’s license, which was taken away in 2008 after his third drunken-driving conviction since 2002.
Lamblin, 38, declined to be interviewed by the AP, but his application was obtained through a public records request. He told Snyder that he’s been dry for seven years.
“I am a licensed residential builder who would like to start my own business,” Lamblin wrote in May. “Having a clean slate with a driver’s license would help make that happen. … Prior to losing my license, I participated in many more community and charitable activities. I would like to be able to give back to my community again.”
He asked the governor to “please believe in the sincerity of this letter.”
The parole board, however, said his application had no merit. Snyder stuck to that conclusion.
“Gov. Snyder believes pardons should be used in circumstances when a criminal conviction was a significant barrier to a person being able to get a job and support their family,” spokesman Dave Murray said.
Patrick Barone, a lawyer in Oakland County who specializes in drunken-driving cases, said he’s not surprised that Lamblin’s request was rejected, especially with his string of offenses.
“They’re extraordinarily rare for any criminal matter and almost unheard-of for drunk driving cases,” Barone said of pardons. What governor “wants to take the risk?”
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