Miss high court hears challenge to Barbour pardons

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Feuding attorneys asked the Mississippi Supreme Court on Thursday to determine the validity of pardons that Haley Barbour gave to convicted killers and other convicts during his final days as governor.

Chief Justice Bill Waller Jr. said the court would not rule Thursday, but he didn't say when a decision would come.

"We want them to take enough time to do it right," said Randy Walker, who objects to the pardons. Walker was shot in the head in 1993 by one of the men Barbour set free last month. That former inmate, David Gatlin, also fatally shot his own estranged wife as she held the couple's baby.

At the heart of the dispute is Section 124 of the Mississippi Constitution, which says "no pardon shall be granted" by the governor until the convicted felon applying for the pardon publishes notice of that application for 30 days in a newspaper in or near the county where the crime was committed.

Justices could uphold the pardons, as requested by a private attorney representing Republican Barbour. Or they could declare the pardons invalid, as requested by Democratic Attorney General Jim Hood. If they agree with Hood that the 30-day publication is a must, they could send the pardons back to a lower court, where a circuit judge could hold a trial to determine whether the pardons met those requirements.

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