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Q: Pardon or Clemency ( Answered 5 out of 5 stars,   0 Comments )
Subject: Pardon or Clemency
Category: Miscellaneous
Asked by: gerald-ga
List Price: $50.00
Posted: 01 May 2002 08:08 PDT
Expires: 08 May 2002 08:08 PDT
Question ID: 8143
What is the procedure for requesting a Pardon or Clemency relative to
a Federal Crime?  I feel that the sentence is to severe and that I
deserved a downward departure and was denied.  I can no longer afford
the services of my attorney and therefore need to know if I can make
such a request.
Subject: Re: Pardon or Clemency
Answered By: shal-ga on 01 May 2002 10:20 PDT
Rated:5 out of 5 stars
Dear Gerald,

For a federal crime, you will want to seek a federal pardon, or an
“executive clemency,” as defined under Article II, Section 2 of the
U.S. Constitution.  All such requests are processed through the Office
of the Pardon Attorney.  The Pardon Attorney (currently Robert C.
Adams), working in consultation with the Attorney General (currently
John Ashcroft) investigates and reviews all requests for executive
clemency and prepares the Department’s recommendation to the U.S.
President for final disposition of the request.  It is important to
know that federal pardons take several forms, “including pardon,
commutation of sentence, remission of fine or restitution, and

Office of the Pardon Attorney

According to the regulations for executive clemency, “generally, no
petition should be submitted by a person who is on probation, parole,
or supervised release.”

Rules Governing Petitions for Executive Clemency, Section 1.2
United States Department of Justice

Additionally, “no petition for commutation of sentence, including
remission of fine, should be filed if other forms of judicial or
administrative relief are available, except upon a showing of
exceptional circumstances.”
Rules Governing Petitions for Executive Clemency, Section 1.3
United States Department of Justice

However, if after the above regulations you feel that your case may be
open to such clemency you can get application forms to file such a
request at the Office of the Pardon Attorney website,

Regulations and Procedure Guidelines for this application as described
by the Office of the Pardon Attorney are described in detail at,

In addition to the Section 1.2 and 1.3 mentioned above, the following
key rules may be of interest to you:
1.	File a formal petition, addressed to the President of the United
States and submit it to the Pardon Attorney, Department of Justice,
Washington, D.C. 20530, EXCEPT for petitions relating to military
offenses. Petition forms for commutation of sentence may also be
obtained from the wardens of federal penal institutions. Each petition
for executive clemency should include the information required in the
form prescribed by the Attorney General.
For military offenses, the petitioner should submit an application
directly to the Secretary of the military department that had original
jurisdiction over the court-martial trial and conviction of the
petitioner. In such a case, a form furnished by the Pardon Attorney
may be used but should be modified to meet the needs of the particular

2. Consideration of petitions; notification of victims;
recommendations to the President.
(a) Upon receipt of a petition for executive clemency, the Attorney
General shall cause such investigation to be made of the matter as he
or she may deem necessary and appropriate, using the services of, or
obtaining reports from, appropriate officials and agencies of the
Government, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
(b)(1) When a person requests clemency (in the form of either a
commutation of a sentence or a pardon after serving a sentence) for a
conviction of a felony offense for which there was a victim, and the
Attorney General concludes from the information developed in the
clemency case that investigation of the clemency case warrants
contacting the victim, the Attorney General shall cause reasonable
effort to be made to notify the victim or victims of the crime for
which clemency is sought:
(i) That a clemency petition has been filed;
(ii) That the victim may submit comments regarding clemency; and
(iii) Whether the clemency request ultimately is granted or denied by
the President.
(2) In determining whether contacting the victim is warranted, the
Attorney General shall consider the seriousness and recency of the
offense, the nature and extent of the harm to the victim, the
defendant's overall criminal history and history of violent behavior,
and the likelihood that clemency could be recommended in the case.
Rules Governing Petitions for Executive Clemency, Section 1.6
United States Department of Justice

The standards used by the Pardon Attorney are outlined on the Office
of the Pardon Attorney at, .

Some important excerpts are as follows:

“The Pardon Attorney routinely requests the United States Attorney in
the district of conviction to provide comments and recommendations on
clemency cases that appear to have some merit, as well as on cases
that raise issues of fact about which the United States Attorney may
be in a position to provide information. . . The views of the United
States Attorney are given considerable weight in determining what
recommendations the Department should make to the President. For this
reason, and in order to ensure consistency, it is important that each
request sent to the district receive the personal attention of the
United States Attorney. Each petition is presented for action to the
President with a report and recommendation from the Department, and
the recommendation by the United States Attorney is included in this
report. . . . As a general matter, in clemency cases the correctness
of the underlying conviction is assumed, and the question of guilt or
innocence is not generally at issue. However, if a petitioner refuses
to accept guilt, minimizes culpability, or raises a claim of innocence
or miscarriage of justice, the United States Attorney should address
these issues.”
Section 1-2.111 Role of the United States Attorney in Clemency Matters
“In general, a pardon is granted on the basis of the petitioner's
demonstrated good conduct for a substantial period of time after
conviction and service of sentence. The Department's regulations
require a petitioner to wait a period of at least five years after
conviction or release from confinement (whichever is later) before
filing a pardon application (28 C.F.R.  1.2). In determining whether
a particular petitioner should be recommended for a pardon, the
following are the principal factors taken into account. . . An
individual's demonstrated ability to lead a responsible and productive
life for a significant period after conviction or release from
confinement is strong evidence of rehabilitation and worthiness for
Section 1-2.112 Standards for Considering Pardon Petitions
 “A commutation of sentence reduces the period of incarceration; it
does not imply forgiveness of the underlying offense, but simply
remits a portion of the punishment. It has no effect upon the
underlying conviction and does not necessarily reflect upon the
fairness of the sentence originally imposed. Requests for commutation
generally are not accepted unless and until a person has begun serving
that sentence. Nor are commutation requests generally accepted from
persons who are presently challenging their convictions or sentences
through appeal or other court proceeding. . . Generally, commutation
of sentence is an extraordinary remedy that is rarely granted.
Appropriate grounds for considering commutation have traditionally
included disparity or undue severity of sentence, critical illness or
old age, and meritorious service rendered to the government by the
petitioner, e.g., cooperation with investigative or prosecutive
efforts that has not been adequately rewarded by other official
action. A combination of these and/or other equitable factors may also
provide a basis for recommending commutation in the context of a
particular case. The amount of time already served and the
availability of other remedies (such as parole) are taken into account
in deciding whether to recommend clemency.”
Section 1-2.113 Standards for Considering Commutation Petitions
Without the details of your situation, this answer provides some
general guidelines on the eligibility and regulations for requesting a
federal pardon.

Additional information that may be helpful to you:

Clemency Statistics: 1900-1945

Clemency Statistics: 1945-2001

Clemency Recipients: 1989-2001

Recent Pardon: February 14, 2001, Congressional Testimony, Robert C.
Adams (Pardon Attorney)

The Constitution of the United States of America

US Constitution – Article 2, Section 2, Presidential power to grant

Search Terms Used: 

Pardon clemency

US Constitution


I hope this information is helpful.  

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