Dixon May 11 Execution Filing Fails – Judge Rejects Challenge to Clemency Board Composition

By Daniella Espinoza

MARICOPA COUNTY, AZ – Judge Stephen M. Hopkins of Maricopa County this week rejected a challenge to the state’s clemency board in the first case of its kind in recent years, as the May 11 execution date gets even closer for Clarence Dixon.

Dixon is currently on death row for the 1978 rape and murder of Deana Bowdoin. Dixon, according to his lawyers, is also facing hardships with mental health and blindness.

Dixon’s lawsuit against the Arizona Board of Executive Clemency argues that the board and Arizona Governor Doug Ducey are violating state law and denying “his due process rights” by allowing the board of professionals to be made up of an excessive number of former law enforcement professionals.

Dixon’s lawyers charge that Arizona law states that “no more than two members of the same professional discipline may serve on the board at the same time.” Right now, however, three out of the five current members of the Arizona Board of Executive Clemency are made up of retired law enforcement officers.

Despite voiced concern over the oversaturation of former law enforcement officers on the board, Judge Hopkins ruled this week that “law enforcement is not a ‘profession’” within the meaning of the statute.”

State sponsored death is not common in Arizona. In fact, if Dixon is unsuccessful in his bid for clemency, he will be the first incarcerated individual to be executed in the state in eight years.

In a statement about the judgment, Dixon’s attorney Joshua Spears argued that because of a lack of similar cases in recent years, “the Clemency Board as presently constituted has never considered a capital clemency request” making it even more critical for a representative board.

Because “Clarence Dixon is a person with serious mental illness as well as blindness and other severe physical disabilities,” Spears added, “ his case presents many important factors relevant to a clemency determination;” further highlighting the need for a legal board.

Dixon and his attorney said they will continue to review their options for appeals in an attempt to achieve a “fair hearing before an impartial Clemency Board that complies fully with state law.”

About The Author

The Vanguard Court Watch operates in Yolo, Sacramento and Sacramento Counties with a mission to monitor and report on court cases. Anyone interested in interning at the Courthouse or volunteering to monitor cases should contact the Vanguard at info(at)davisvanguard(dot)org - please email info(at)davisvanguard(dot)org if you find inaccuracies in this report.

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