Chicago Criminal Defense & Expungement Blog

Friday, April 22, 2016

Executive Clemency

On April 13, 2016 I represented a client before the prison review board in his request for executive clemency.  Executive clemency is the last form of potential relief available when a client wants to clear his record but is not eligible for expungement or sealing.  In such a case the individual may request a pardon from the governor which, if granted, would authorize the individual to file a petition to expunge in Circuit Court.  The procedures governing the executive clemency process are set forth in 730 ILCS 5/3-3-13.  In Chicago the hearings are held at the Thompson Center.  In my case there were 4 members of the prison review board presiding when I presented my petition.  I proceeded by way of testimony through my client.  I asked what I believed to be the most relevant questions and my client answered them honestly.  When I was finished the board members had an opportunity to ask my client questions.  In addition a representative from the Cook County State's Attorney's Office was present who argued against the petition and objected to clemency.  I was advised by the administrator in the room that decisions have been taking approximately 2 years.

It is vital that when preparing a petition the attorney takes special note of all of the client's background.  My hearing went last and I had the benefit of watching the prison review board assess numerous other petitions.  The board appears to take a holistic approach that goes far beyond the mere offense in which a pardon is sought.  It is pivotal to express to the board why a pardon is needed and why a pardon is deserved.  Prior to the commencement of the hearings one of the board members read a statement in which he reminded petitioners that they were not there to re-litigate old cases.  In my opinion the board placed its greatest emphasis on rehabilitation and how the petitioner has turned his or her life around.  

Law Office of Jason B. Stevens, P.C. has offices in Arlington Heights, IL and serves clients throughout the Chicago area, including: Cook, Lake, DuPage, McHenry, Kane and Will counties.

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