Can the President of the U.S. stay a federal execution?

Say a federal criminal defendant is convicted and sentenced to death. His appeal runs its course, all the way up to the Supreme Court, which upholds the death sentence. An execution date is set. The prisoner files a flurry of last-minute appeals, all of which are shot down. Then the White House Counsel learns of new evidence indicating the prisoner’s actual innocence. He convinces the Attorney General that the execution should not go forward until the new evidence is fully investigated. Can the President, using either his pardon power (creatively interpreted) or his authority over the Federal Bureau of Prisons, grant a stay of execution?

Article II gives the president the power of “reprieves and pardons” in all Federal matters except impeachment.

I think “reprieves” fits pretty nicely into what you are describing.

I agree with this. Either his reprieve power or his role as Chief Executive should carry the day. Of course, if the prisoner is being executed by a state–not so much.

Not only can the President stay any federal (or military) execution he want’s he can also pardon anybody of any federal (or military) crime they may have commited, even before a trial (or even an indictment), and there is no way to override it.

President Clinton did stay the execution of Juan Raul Garza in 2000 for six months, although he was eventually executed.

Clinton Again Delays Execution of a Murderer

Thank you! Asked and answered.

Sorry if this is a hijack, but what if the “pardonees” do not want to be pardoned, especially before there’s even a trial, because, for example, of the smidgen of guilt that might be associated with a pardon rather than an acquittal?

There is at least some precedent on the issue. In Biddle v. Perovich, the Supreme Court ruled that the president’s commutation of a death sentence could not be refused by the offender.

Pre-emptive pardons being so rare, I don’t think you’ll see an opinion specific to that issue anytime soon.

Heh. The commutation at issue in that case had been granted by President William H. Taft in 1909. The Chief Justice in 1927, when the case was decided, was… also Taft. You’ll note at the bottom of the page that he took no part in deciding the case.

Much obliged.

The USA is a Federal Republic with 50 states.

The US President can do anything he wants within his branch of Gov: Executive Branch. He can issue Executive Orders within the Executive Branch. Now if a state does something that the President deems is against the constitution, he can sue that state and the US Supreme court can judge and look at the breach if a brach has happened. So to answer your questions, yes and no. A President can stop a Federal Execution but not a State one. See kids, a US State is pretty much another country. State have kept a majority of their powers but gave a few powers away to the Federal Gov. Hence, checks and balances. The USA is a complex enigma, and most foreign people or American citizens don’t fully understand how the USA works, lol.

Here’s a link that explains how the USA works.

This question was originally asked well over four years ago. You should pay better attention.

Plus, the President cannot do “anything he wants” within the Executive Branch. Simply because he is the Chief Executive, does not mean the he has unlimited authority in that role.

Where he has a specific constitutional power to do something (like, tell the 101 Airborne Division to turn left instead of right by virtue of his role as commander in chief), he has broad authority. To the extent that Congress has exercised its own constitutional powers to make laws on various subjects the the domain of the Executive Branch (like, to give civil service employees protections against being fired for political reasons), the President has very little authority.

Most matters, of course, are somewhere in between those two extremes.

You resurrect an ancient thread (already asked and answered as has been pointed out) in order to be patronizing and insulting? Interesting way to introduce yourself.

Welcome to the Straight Dope*. I guess.

(*if I waited much longer to say that, I may not have gotten the chance ;))

Almost every sentence in this post is wrong.

Moderator Note

jafoincalifornia, please read our rules and FAQs before posting again. We ask that old threads not be resurrected except to add significant new information. It is also against the rules to insult other posters. Since this question was correctly answered four years ago, and your post doesn’t really contribute anything new, I’m going to close this. No warning issued, but don’t answer a thread in this manner again.

General Questions Moderator