Pamela Smart's Quest for 'Hope' Falters

New Hampshire's highest court dismisses her petition
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Feb 17, 2023 10:59 AM CST
Updated Mar 29, 2023 10:10 AM CDT
Pamela Smart, Jailed in Infamous Murder Case, Asks for 'Hope'
In this 2010 image taken from video, courtesy of WMUR television of Manchester, NH, Pamela Smart is shown during an interview at the corrections facility, in Bedford Hills, NY.   (WMUR Television via AP, File)
UPDATE Mar 29, 2023 10:10 AM CDT

New Hampshire's highest court on Wednesday turned away the latest attempt to get a sentence reduction for Pamela Smart, who's serving life in prison for plotting with her teenage lover to have her husband killed in 1990. Having exhausted her judicial appeal options, Smart asked a state council for a sentence reduction hearing last year. The five-member Executive Council, which approves state contracts and appointees, rejected her request in less than three minutes, prompting the appeal to the state's Supreme Court. But the court dismissed the petition for lack of jurisdiction on Wednesday, saying that ordering the council to reconsider what it deemed a "political" question would violate the separation of powers. Smart can refile a petition with the council every two years, reports the AP.

Feb 17, 2023 10:59 AM CST

A lawyer for Pamela Smart, who's serving a life-without-parole sentence for plotting with her teenage lover to kill her husband in 1990, argued this week that a state council "brushed aside" her request for a chance at freedom, and asked New Hampshire's highest court to order the panel to reconsider it. Smart's longtime attorney, Mark Sisti, argued the five-member council did not spend any time poring over Smart's voluminous petition—which included many letters of support from inmates, supervisors, and others—or even discuss it before rejecting her sentence reduction request in less than three minutes in March. "I'm asking the only place I can go—the only place Pam can go—to say, 'Just do your job,'" Sisti said.

Associate Justice James Bassett asked "And what does that mean? What are we going to say?" To which Sisti replied: "A meaningful, minimal due process hearing that we even get at the Department of Motor Vehicles." Smart, 55, has exhausted all of her standard judicial appeal options and has to go through the state council to request a sentence change. Smart was 22 and working as a high school media coordinator when she began an affair with a 15-year-old student who later shot and killed her husband, Gregory Smart, in 1990. Though she denied knowledge of the plot, she was convicted of conspiracy to commit murder and other crimes and sentenced to life without parole. She is now hoping to have that sentenced reduced, with a chance at freedom.

story continues below

The teen, William Flynn, and three other teens, cooperated with prosecutors, served shorter sentences and have been released. The trial was a media circus and one of the first high-profile cases about a sexual affair between a school staff member and a student. Joyce Maynard wrote To Die For in 1992, drawing from the Smart case. That inspired a 1995 film of the same name, starring Nicole Kidman and Joaquin Phoenix. Sisti said a life-without-parole sentence should hitch onto something: hope. "I'm asking that you give Pam Smart that little inkling, that little crack in the door where she can have hope."

(More New Hampshire stories.)

Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.