LAS VEGAS (AP) — Nevada’s pardons board will not be able to consider a last-minute request from outgoing Gov. Steve Sisolak to commute all 57 of the state’s death sentences, a judge ordered Monday evening.
Delivering his ruling from the bench, Carson City District Court Judge James Wilson Jr. said the state Board of Pardons, which includes the governor, has the authority to grant such commutations but failed to properly notify the families of victims before the meeting.
The board was set to vote on the request Tuesday morning.
“I think that is required to show the capital murder victim fairness and respect for his or her dignity,” Wilson said Monday evening. His order came in response to an emergency petition filed last week by Chris Hicks, the Republican district attorney in Reno, who criticized Sisolak’s request as “unjust and undemocratic.”
The board will still meet Tuesday morning as scheduled but won’t discuss the commutations.
A spokeswoman for Sisolak’s office declined to comment Monday evening on the judge’s order. She said the governor will deliver remarks Tuesday at the meeting.
Sisolak, who opposed legislative efforts last year to abolish capital punishment, confirmed last week that he wanted to clear the state’s death row before leaving office in two weeks by changing the sentences of all inmates awaiting execution to life in prison without parole.
His request came on the heels of outgoing Oregon Gov. Kate Brown, also a Democrat, using her executive clemency powers last Tuesday to commute all 17 death sentences in her state.
Nevada has not executed a prisoner since 2006. All but one of the 12 people executed by in the state since 1977, when Nevada reinstated capital punishment, had waived their appeals.