Monday, August 10, 2009

Failed Clemency Applicants Can't Hide Behind the Bush

George W. BushGeorge W. Bush via

Applicants for clemency who were shot down by former President George W. Bush have no reasonable expectation of privacy, a federal judge has ruled.

In George Lardner v. Department of Justice (case no. 08-1398), the United States District Court for the District of Columbia said the privacy exemptions under the Freedom of Information Act (5 U.S.C. sec. 552) do not apply to the list of names of individuals who were denied executive clemency. The Office of the Pardon Attorney had initially refused to turn over the names to Lardner, an open government advocate.

In its reasoning, the Court said denial of clemency is commonplace, so applicants should not be stigmatized by the public disclosure of their application being rejected. President Bush granted 157 pardons and 6 commutations of sentences, but denied 1,535 pardon requests and 6,290 commutation requsts.

Lardner sought the names of more than 7,000 individuals who were denied a get out of jail free card from the OPA, which assists the President in evaluating clemency petitions. The Court noted that Lardner did not seek disclosure of substantive personal information contained in the actual clemency files.

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1 comment:

  1. Love that picture of Bush. I think HImmler had something simmler.