Catholic announces clemency clinic

The Catholic University of America’s Columbus School of Law is starting the nation’s second clinic devoted to the research and study of executive clemency and the power of pardon. 

The CUA Law/Ehrlich Partnership on Clemency was made possible by Robert Ehrlich, a former Maryland governor who is now senior counsel at King and Spaulding. Ehrlich’s tenure at governor was distinguished by the time he spent personally reviewing requests for pardons from convicted criminals.

Ehrlich said the clemency project is a vital tool to educate and remind state chief executives of the vast power they possess but too often use infrequently.

“This is part of the job. But, your political courage quotient will be tested. It’s a strange issue, and neither Democrats nor Republicans seem to care very much about it,” Ehrlich said.

Catholic will handle the clemency issues under the auspices of its already established Innocence Project.

“We will also conduct a training program for newly elected state executives or their chiefs of staff,  and we will provide a venue for educational and advocacy programs on executive clemency,” said law school Dean Daniel Attridge.  “This is a splendid example of how our cooperative efforts can directly benefit our institution, our students, and our mission to serve the public.”

The University of Akron has a clemency clinic that started in 2009 and assists with pardons from the Ohio governor. More than 700 people have been referred to it. Its director, Professor Joann Sahl, advised Catholic University, in designing their clinic.