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Faulty Paperwork Winds Up Freeing 22 Arizona Inmates

March 28, 2002
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Faulty Paperwork Winds Up Freeing 22 Arizona Inmates

PHOENIX - Twenty-two Arizona inmates have been freed because of a ruling that former Gov. Fife Symington did not properly sign papers denying clemency.

The state attorney general recommended the action after the state Supreme Court ruled unanimously that Symington did not properly follow procedures when he denied a commutation for an inmate recommended by the clemency board.

The denial was signed illegibly, apparently by a Symington aide, and there was no indication that Symington decided the matter, the ruling said. Symington also failed to properly submit the form to the secretary of state, the court said.

The court's decision was based on a 1994 law that relaxed mandatory sentences and set up clemency procedures for inmates who were serving harsher sentences than the new law recommended.

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