Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Pardon Attorney Scandal: The Experts Speak

PardonPower asked, "Is the conclusion of the recently released O.I.G. report (see post here) enough to expect / demand the resignation of the U.S. Pardon Attorney?" Here are the responses:

"Yes, Rodgers needs to go. It's clear from the IG report that his personal opinion in Clarence Aaron's case interfered with his professional responsibility to the President. It was not a bureaucratic snafu. It was misconduct that directly affected the life of another human being, in this case Clarence Aaron's, keeping him behind bars for additional unnecessary years. That is totally unacceptable. But removing Mr. Rodgers will not fix all that ails the broken clemency process. We need to reform the system from top to bottom." - Jullie Stewart, Families Against Mandatory Minimums.

"There is no doubt that Mr. Rodgers should be removed as pardon attorney by President Obama. The clemency process can only function in a meaningful fashion if the President receives accurate information and fair recommendations from the Pardon Attorney. The Inspector General's report makes clear that Mr. Rodgers effectively usurped the clemency power from the President by withholding key information in order to achieve his own desired outcomes. Thus, he is unfit to advise the President in future cases." - Dan Kobil, Capital University Law School.

"I think that Rodger needs to go for at least two reasons. Generally, a lawyer has a fundamental ethical obligation to give his client candid advice. This is especially important when the lawyer has an interest in the outcome of the matter that may conflict with the client’s interest and about which the client is unaware. Here, Rodgers knew that the President wanted to grant clemency to Aaron, whereas he personally opposed clemency. Rather than making an honest attempt to persuade the President to his view, Rodgers deliberately misled his client to achieve the result he preferred. If I as a criminal defense attorney did that to a client, I would probably be disbarred. At a minimum, DOJ should remove Rodgers from his position.

Secondly, as Pardon Attorney, Rodgers sits in judgment on thousands of clemency applicants, holding them to a very strict standard of acceptance of responsibility. Yet, the OIG Report demonstrates that when he was confronted with his own misconduct, he refused to admit that he did anything wrong. Instead, he made excuses about how busy he was, how he was pressed for time, how he merely misspoke, etc. What’s good for the goose is good for the gander. By the very standards he routinely imposes on others, Rodgers is unfit to continue serving as Pardon Attorney." - Samuel T. Morison, former staff attorney, Office of the Pardon Attorney, Department of Justice

"The recent report by the Justice Department's Office of Inspector General casts into question the integrity of the U.S. Pardon Attorney. Given the critical role of the Pardon Power in any presidency, President Obama should remove the Pardon Attorney if he shares any of the concerns raised so emphatically in the IG report." - Harold Krent, I.T.T. Chicago-Kent School of Law.

"I'm afraid that Julie Stewart is right: Ron Rodgers is really not the problem but only a symptom of it. He was doing exactly as he was told by his handlers, so getting rid of him will do nothing to repair the broken pardon process or encourage the president in the use of the power. For twenty years the Justice Department has failed in its stewardship, and for 20 years the president has apparently been willing to live with this dysfunctional situation. Without some fundamental change of heart in the president himself, we can expect more of the same from whoever replaces Rodgers."     Margaret C. Love, former U.S. Pardon Attorney

"I have never really understood why Rodgers - a leftover from the Bush administration - was ever even offered the position, or why he accepted it. I see nothing in his background which suggests either professional or academic interest in the pardon power. The only noticeable talent he seems to have brought to the Office of the Pardon Attorney is the dull bureacratic energy to deny applications, by the thousands. It is very clear that the president should now pick his own pardon atttorney, someone who has a documented interest in matters related to clemency and can bring a more fair and balanced approach to clemency applications." - P.S. Ruckman, Jr.


beth said...

Lots of good information about the Office of the Pardon Attorney. This process is largely hidden from the general public and many thanks to all for shedding some light on the procedure.

Aaron said...

Do we believe in second chances?ONLY FOR SOME PEOPLE!!!

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