Press Office 



                                                FOR RELEASE: 

                                                IMMEDIATE, Tuesday 

                                                December 23, 2003 


Grants Posthumous Pardon to Performer Lenny Bruce

      Governor George E. Pataki today announced that he has commuted the 

sentence of an individual whose request for clemency was approved at all 

stages of the clemency process. The Governor also announced that he has 

granted a posthumous pardon to performer Lenny Bruce.

"The holiday season is a time when we are reminded of the true meaning of 

compassion, particularly for those who take it upon themselves to improve 

their lives," Governor Pataki said. "Emmanuel Nkemakolam has served a long 

sentence and has dedicated himself to becoming a contributing member of 


 "While I remain firmly committed to continuing our successful efforts to 

fight crime, Mr. Nkemakolam has worked hard to earn a second chance," the 

Governor said. 

Emmanuel Nkemakolam, 47, was sentenced on July 10, 1992 in Queens County 

for first-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance. His 

sentence was 15 years to life with a parole eligibility date of December 

20, 2006. Prior to his arrest, Nkemakolam had no criminal history. He has 

maintained an excellent disciplinary record in prison and has participated 

in numerous programs. While in prison Nkemakolam served as a teacher’s 

aide, a literacy volunteer, a paralegal assistant in the law library, 

program aide in vocational building, as well as earning a basic legal 

research certificate of merit and participating in the prison ministry and 


Mr. Nkemakolam will not be automatically released; rather, the Parole Board 

will consider him for parole release in mid-January. He may be returned to 

prison for violating the terms of his parole. 

Since 1995, the Governor has commuted the sentences of 31 individuals, 

including Mr. Nkemakolam. Each inmate granted clemency has excelled in 

educational, vocational or volunteer programs while in prison. 

The Governor also granted a posthumous pardon to the performer Lenny Bruce 

who was convicted of the misdemeanor of Giving an Obscene Performance in 


"The posthumous pardon of Lenny Bruce is a declaration of New York’s 

commitment to upholding the First Amendment. Freedom of speech is one of 

the greatest American liberties and I hope this pardon serves as a reminder 

of the precious freedoms we are fighting to preserve as we continue to wage 

the war on terror," the Governor said. 


Lenny Bruce’s conviction was based upon a comedy performance at CafEAu Go 

Go in New York City. Bruce was sentenced to serve four months in jail. 

Acting as his own attorney, Bruce never legally appealed his conviction on 

first amendment grounds. His co-defendant, club owner Howard Solomon, had 

his conviction reversed on appeal. 

The pardon of Lenny Bruce is the first posthumous pardon granted by 

Governor Pataki, and the first posthumous pardon granted in New York 

according to records kept by the New York State Division of Parole.