By Eric Siddall
Governor Jerry Brown’s historic and unprecedented eight years of pardons and commutations faced a rare roadblock this past week for abuse of power. In a rebuke not undertaken by the California Supreme Court since 1930, the governor’s pardon of murderer Borey Ai was reversed.
In 1996, Ai murdered Manijeh Eshaghoff during a robbery for $300. She died in the arms of her husband, who held her while she bled out on the floor of their store. As her son, David, recounted, Ai and his accomplices “already had the money, all he had to do was run.” Instead, he elected to murder the victim.
Ai, age 14 at the time he murdered Eshaghoff, was sentenced to 25 years to life in prison for the robbery/murder and a second unrelated robbery. He was paroled in 2016.
The Supreme Court is required to give approval for pardons and sentence commutations for twice-convicted felons and may only block the pardon if the court feels that it is an abuse of power. Brown has issued more than 1,100 pardons and 82 commutations in his eight years as governor. In contrast, Arnold Schwarzenegger granted 15 pardons, including a controversial commutation to his friend Fabian Nunez’s son. Governors Wilson and Davis gave no pardons during their terms.
We applaud the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office for their opposition to the pardon and advocacy for justice for Manijeh Eshaghoff and her family.
Eric Siddall is Vice President of the Association of Los Angeles Deputy District Attorneys, the collective bargaining agent representing nearly 1,000 Deputy District Attorneys who work for the County of Los Angeles.