The Good, Bad Lucky, Unlucky, Legal Illegal Immigrant: Colorado Governor Pardons A Convicted Armed Robber

It is  misleading to describe this story as a Democratic governor letting an convicted armed robber escape punishment so he can stay in the US, though that is how it is being reported.

The world has gone mad, but the pardon issued to convicted bank robber Rene Lima-Marinby by Governor John Hickenlooper isn’t necessarily proof of that, though Lima-Marinby’s weird story is.

He came to the U.S. as a toddler in the 1980 Mariel boat lift from Cuba, and had obtained  legal residency. His 2000 criminal conviction for armed robbery when he was 19 caused that status to be revoked. Lima-Marin was sentenced to 98 years in prison for the robbery.

Let me pause. He was 19, and they sentenced him to 98 years in prison.

Then he was mistakenly paroled from Colorado state prison in 2008, 90 years early. I’ve written about these cases before. I hate them. Releasing a prisoner then coming back years later and saying, “Oopsie! Sorry! Our bad! Back you go!” turns a gaffe into cruel and unusual punishment. Unless a prisoner is a serial killer or a terrorist or breaks the law after he is released, the authorities should bear the burden of such incompetence, and any early release should stand.

Lima-Marin is a good example of why this should be the practice. he married, had a child and got a steady job installing glass. It took six years for the state authorities to discover their mistake, and in 2014 they sent him back to state prison for the remainder of his 98-year  sentence.


Last week, a Colorado judge ordered Lima-Marin released from state prison, saying it would be “draconian” to keep him incarcerated. The judge was correct. But then ICE arrested Lima-Marin, citing a still-active deportation order stemming from his conviction in 2000. He is facing deportation to Cuba, or in other words, Hell.

 98 members of the state Assembly, Democrats and Republicans, as well as this poor guy’s lawyer called on Hickenlooper to pardon him as his best chance of avoiding that fate, and the governor did.

“This was a question of justice,” Gov. Hickenlooper told an afternoon news conference. “This was a pretty clear example of someone who’s done all the work necessary to earn a second chance.”

This is a close call for me. I might have pardoned Lima-Marin myself. He was not a wilful illegal immigrant, since he was brought into the country as a child. His country of origin wasn’t Mexico, it was an island prison camp, under a dictatorship, and his parents were refugees. I have no problem with revoking his legal status as a result of a major felony conviction, but the sentence was excessive for a young man still in his teens. The premature release was not his fault, and he made the most of it. Yes, he should have pursued legalized status, but the Obama administration had sent the message that he didn’t have to. Then the incompetent authorities in Colorado tossed him back in prison,  a judge took two years to reverse that action, and now he risks being sent to a miserable Communist country (well, Michael Moore likes it) where he’s never lived.

Why don’t they just shoot him?

Even with the pardon, it is unclear whether Hickenlooper’s pardon can stop Lima-Marin’s deportation. I don’t see the governor’s action as an effort to thwart immigration enforcement. I take it as an acknowledgment that his state made Lima-Marin’s life even more of a mess than his crime warranted, and in the interest of justice, equity and fairness, he deserves a break.  I admit, Red’s statement to the parole board in “The Shawshank Redemption” may have influenced me.

What do you think?


Source: Denver Post

29 thoughts on “The Good, Bad Lucky, Unlucky, Legal Illegal Immigrant: Colorado Governor Pardons A Convicted Armed Robber

  1. As much as I hate pardons, and I really do hate them when they infringe upon our justice system, I agree with the Governor issuing a pardon for Rene Lima-Marinby. I completely agree that the pardon is an “acknowledgment that his state made Lima-Marin’s life even more of a mess than his crime warranted, and in the interest of justice, equity and fairness, he deserves a break” and that’s why I agree with this pardon.

    I also agree that the pardon does not change the ICE status, the crime was committed, he was convicted of the crime regardless of the pardon; I’ll be curiously watching what happens next.

    • … but does the pardon reverse that the crime happened, as it expunges his record? Or doesn’t it?

      If the crime never happened, the ICE order also never happened.

      I could be wrong here: looking for help understanding how a pardon works.

    • I previously stated on this website that…

      “I for one do not agree with any single person, whether it is the President of the United States or a State Governor, having the sole power to override our system of justice that was put in place to take individuals that have violated standing laws and put them back on the streets before they have served out their sentence for their crime.

      That said; I have only two exceptions and that is in cases where a prisoner was put in prison for a non-violent criminal act that has been stricken from the books and is no longer an enforceable law, and the second is removing a death penalty of an individual in favor of life-in prison without parole.”

      I think this is a unique case where I would have been wrong to be advocating to blanket opposition to all pardons except for what I mentioned before. I don’t think this was a case where the Governor was infringing upon the justice system.

      Heck, even and old dog like me can learn something once in a while. 🙂

  2. You stole my Michael Moore line.

    By the way, the District Court judge who ordered Elian Gonzales back to his family in Cuba is Michael Moore, my best elementary school buddy. Last I knew, Mike’s the chief judge in the Southern District of Florida.

    Going back to Cuba wouldn’t be hell. He’d probably be feted by the Castro regime and given a sinecure. His whole family could go. It’s a worker’s paradise. Great cigars and rum. Very enlightened culture. No racism. Great ball players.

    • You did go to Cuba, right? Or you were sarcastic? To be fair, I think both you and Jack are on both extremes. Cuba has some terrific things, and some awful ones. Walking through Havana outside the tourist trail, and in the country side, was an extraordinary experience for me.

      You can drive in tourist recent Volvo taxis, where seat belts, dashes and wipers have been removed (i.e. sold because they are owned by the state); walk by buildings tiled with 05″x0.5″ tiles, making patterns on their entire facade (built under Batista), where the tiles are hardly visibly because they’re so dirty, where the last floor had collapsed, and the balconies are held up with stacked up wooden beams (because the buildings are owned by the state); yet look inside those otherwise miserable houses and see hand crafted wooden tables, large beautiful paintings, and glorious (because all those “possessions” are off the books; go to mansions doubling as “guest houses” (because private restaurants are illegal), where you can have wonderful local food if you reserve and go as a group, and where you go to a bathroom where their toothbrush​es can be seen; walk by farms with planks under which chickens (and owners) live; and encounter buildings that have been under construction for years, with dust on the tools, because they serve to show tourists​ that Cuba is building (but the management of this false project isn’t even able to dust off the tools.); where you meet a young boy that looks otherwise wealthy (probably connected parents), on a beautiful village, that tells you he wants to be a doctor, and that answers to the question of why, that it’s because this way he can flee to the US to live with his uncle…

      Yet, you can see beauty, joy, and celebrations of life everywhere. From the musicians on the street, to the cigar smokers in the park, to the kids swimming in the sea, and the students in their wooden schools playing ball…

      Cuba is wonderful. Not to live in, but to convince you that most outside statistics, most faith in the truth in data, is truly naive. The reality of a country like Cuba will never be captured in statistics and data.

      But it is a prison, where the taxi driver, the school boy, and the musician​ all, once you’ve met them a few times, and met in private, tell you that they want to leave.

      • “It’s a worker’s paradise. Great cigars and rum. Very enlightened culture. No racism. Great ball players.” Sarcasm.

        I have no interest in going to Cuba. My wife wants to go and even some of my Cuban refugee buddies from grade school and high school in Miami want to go. Others will never go back as long as the Commies are still in power. Being an Anglo, I was essentially dispossessed of my home town by the influx of Cuban refugees and became a refugee myself. I say let the whole country rot. Can we deport Michael Moore there from Michigan?

        • I would like to buy a specific model of vintage American car that is still rolling on Cuban roads. Even a specimen that is not in mint condition, but still in fair operating condition, would do. I would be willing to pay a good price to have it shipped to my driveway. But, so many regulations…!

          • Forget about it lucky. When the time comes, they’ll all be exported at some point via their owners’ refugee relatives and sold at a great profit to professional restorers and collectors. The second generation refugee guys are already setting up shop in Cuba. You can if you have relatives in Cuba. The Cubans are ferocious traders.

            • From what I know about vintage cars from being married to an enthusiast I think they’ve been so cannibalized and wired together their value as vintage cars is questionable. They are very far from “mint in box” which is one of the things that make vintage cars valuable. But, maybe the whole Communist Cuba zeitgeist will add to their value in a way that’s different from their vintage value.

              • Agreed. I suspect they’ve been so chopped up and redone over the years to keep them operable that there’s not much left to work with.

                • I admit, my interest is only lukewarm, and I share your and wyogranny’s takes on the authenticity (and wider market value) of an old car that I might acquire from Cuba. Still, the body of such a vehicle owns a big, sentimental piece of me. A “refugee Chevy,” like a rescued pet, even if only for its appearance, would satisfy several unfulfilled longings.

      • “Cuba is wonderful. Not to live in, but to convince you that most outside statistics, most faith in the truth in data, is truly naive. The reality of a country like Cuba will never be captured in statistics and data.”

        Well said.

        • Unlike the Germans and the Japanese, the Cubans and Vietnamese have never figured out if you want long term prosperity, you need to be sure to LOSE to the U.S., not defeat it. Dummies. Which is better? A Marshall Plan or an embargo?

  3. I don’t know why he was granted a Pardon, instead of having his sentence commuted. Commuting the sentence should address being back in jail, granting a pardon seems aimed at undoing the deportation order.

    Even with that said, I don’t think we should be deporting anyone to Cuba.

  4. I think you’re exactly right. How is it the state gets to be incompetent and can then say “Oops, sorry, pay up!”? If we were incompetent and broke the law, do you suppose the state would just offer us a pass?

    I think Hickenlooper did the right thing. I don’t feel too sorry for Lima-Marinby’s deportation; after all, most of that is on him. He did break the law in a major way and deserved to have his immigration status revoked. I’m sorry he has to go back to that hell hole, but if we’re going to hold the state accountable for its error, we have to hold him equally accountable.

  5. The mistaken paroling of a convict who is not convicted of any other crime for a period of, say, one year or longer while mistakenly paroled, should constitute dually an automatic debarment of the jurisdiction of conviction from re-incarcerating the convict and an automatic granting of parole status, with the original sentence and conviction becoming automatically subject to being commuted and pardoned, respectively. Lima-Marinby should be, at a minimum, a candidate for federal refugee or asylee status.

  6. Illegal and instead of being taught by momma to be a model student and citizen eternally grateful he prefers to steal and be a criminal. Of course his mom fully supported that! There must be consequences and seems a few years in prison is all this thug got. He doesn’t need to go back to jail but does need deportation. Cannot comprehend how those given the most wonderful gift possible to live in this country can simply stomp all over that gift. I blame it on upbringing or lack of and these are the scum we do not want.

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