Tuesday, May 27, 2008

The President: Post on the New Pardon Attorney

Today's Washington Post features a story by Carrie Johnson which focuses on the task facing the new U.S. Pardon Attorney, Ronald L. Rogers. Among other things, the article notes:
Rodgers inherited a stack of nearly 2,000 requests for pardons and commutations of prison sentences in the waning months of the president's administration, a time when pressure to exercise the clemency power intensifies. "If there's ever been a time when the pardon attorney should have an impact, this is it," said P.S. Ruckman Jr., an associate professor at Rock Valley College in Illinois who studies clemency patterns.
The article notes that "about half a dozen lawyers assist Rodgers in the small office" and, as a result, "the processing and evaluation of these cases takes significant time and in many cases, several years." The article also offers this prognostication:
Lawyers who represent clients seeking pardons and scholars who research clemency said they do not expect Bush, who has granted few such requests as president and in his previous role as Texas governor, to do an about-face during his last months in office.
"About-face" has an accordion-like quality to it. But I think one has to admit that there is something very much like an upward trend here. This would explain why a "department spokesman" has revealed that, this year, the Pardon Attorney's office is on a "record-setting pace" for clemency petitions.The Post piece also observes the President Bush has pardoned 157 people and commuted the sentences of six more. Meanwhile, 1,429 pardon applications have been denied and so have 5,683 requests for commutation of sentence. Former U.S. Pardon Attorney Margaret Colgate Love also says:
"I don't think this president has taken the pardon power very seriously, and I don't see any indication that's going to change. I'm just waiting for the next administration. I'm not looking for anything from this one."
See today's Washington Post story here.

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