Insider: Justice Keeps Clemency Recommendations To Minimum


Responding to the Los Angeles Times’ recent editorial bemoaning that fact that President Obama hasn’t granted any pardons or commutations, Samuel Morison, a former staff attorney in the Justice Department’s Office of the Pardon Attorney, says the Times is “hopelessly confused” by arguing that presidents should “give great deference to the pardon attorney’s recommendations and take a liberal view of the clemency power.”

Writing in the Times, Morison says the problem in most clemency cases is that the White House has given “far too much deference to the pardon attorney’s office.” Morison says the Justice Department’s view is that the pardon attorney should “defend the department’s prosecutorial prerogatives. There is little, if any, pretense of neutrality, much less liberality.” Morison says “there is a strong presumption within the pardon office that the number of favorable recommendations should be kept to an absolute minimum, regardless of the equitable merits of any individual petition.”

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