Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Open Letter to Governor Corzine - 12/31/09

December 31, 2009

Erik B. Anderson
Hackettstown, NJ 07840

The Honorable Jon S. Corzine
Office of the Governor
PO Box 001
Trenton, NJ 08625

RE: Pardon Needed

Dear Governor Corzine:

I previously wrote to you on November 7, 2009 asking (demanding) a pardon for James Titus, who served more than seventeen years in New Jersey State Prison for the Hackettstown murder of Tillie Smith, which occurred in 1886. Not long after that, I received an application for executive clemency from the New Jersey State Parole Board. Unfortunately, the cover letter states: "In order to be eligible for Executive Clemency, an applicant must have been convicted of a criminal offense in New Jersey..." (emphasis added). This is unfortunate because James Titus died in 1952 at the age of 95 years old.

I called Carinne Rivers immediately. I left a message for her. She called me back very quickly, in my opinion. She was most helpful. She stated that no one has ever applied for a posthumous pardon in New Jersey before. I asked her to inquire about how to become the first person to obtain a posthumous pardon for someone in New Jersey.

Ms. Rivers called me back a few days later. She said I would need to speak to Lisa Puglisi, director of the Legal Unit. I immediately left a message for Ms. Puglisi. After about two weeks, I wrote a letter to her explaining the situation. I spoke to her on the phone yesterday. She said she spoke to someone on the "Governor's Council". She may have been referring to the Governor's Counsel, I am really not sure.

Now you are aware of the progress of the situation so far. I want a chance to apply for a pardon for this man. The whole thing was a case of mass hysteria. It was an outrageous rape and murder. It happened during the Victorian era. The prosecutor ran out of leads. Titus was a likely suspect, but his conviction was based on circumstantial evidence. His confession, most believe, was made later in order to avoid the death penalty. There is a ton of reasonable doubt, Governor Corzine.

Ms. Puglisi sounded like your Governor's Council (or Counsel) just told her, as a matter of fact, that, that in order to get a pardon, a convicted person has to apply for it himself and that's the way it goes. She is not in a position to change anything but you are. Surely, poor Janitor Titus cannot meet that requirement. In fact, his last remaining granddaughter died in 1997. I would like to apply for the pardon on his behalf. I am asking you to make a way to do that.

It is possible. It can be done. It has been done in other states. Lenny Bruce got a posthumous pardon in 2003. Other less famous cases are rare, but they do exist. Making it possible to apply for a posthumous pardon would not only benefit Janitor Titus. I believe it would benefit family members of deceased convicts and others in New Jersey interested in correcting mistakes made by the courts that deceased victims cannot fix themselves.

I am not asking that the standards required to obtain a posthumous pardon be any less rigorous than pardons for living persons. I am only asking that it be possible to submit evidence of injustice to your office when it really exists.

Thank you for your time.

God bless you in your future endeavors and have a happy new year.


Erik B. Anderson
Independence Township, New Jersey
Established 1782

CC: State Senator Michael Doherty
Todd Petty, The Warren Reporter

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