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Legal Careers

Deputy Pardon Attorney

Hiring Organization
Office of the Pardon Attorney (Pardon)
Job ID
1425 New York Avenue
Washington, DC 20530 - United States
Application Deadline:
About the Office

The Office of the Pardon Attorney (OPA), United States Department of Justice, seeks to fill the position of Deputy Pardon Attorney, based in Washington, DC. The Office of the Pardon Attorney, in consultation with the Deputy Attorney General as the designee of the Attorney General, assists the President in the exercise of the executive clemency power conferred by Article II, Section 2, of the Constitution. OPA receives petitions for executive clemency, initiates the necessary investigations, and prepares the recommendations of the Department of Justice to the President for consideration of all forms of executive clemency, including commutation of sentence, pardon, remission of fine and reprieve.

In 2014, the Justice Department announced a new Clemency Initiative to encourage appropriate federal inmate candidates to petition for executive clemency to have their sentences commuted by the President. The Initiative invites petitions for commutation of sentence from non-violent offenders serving federal sentences that, by operation of law, likely would be substantially lower if they were convicted of the same offenses today, and who would not pose a threat to public safety if released. Thousands of inmates have already filed petitions for commutation of sentence pursuant to the Initiative, and many more are likely to do so. Evaluating these petitions for recommendation to the President is a high priority for the Justice Department, and execution of this special initiative will constitute a substantial part of the Deputy Pardon Attorney's responsibilities.

As the federal agency whose mission is to ensure the fair and impartial administration of justice for all Americans, the Department of Justice is committed to fostering a diverse and inclusive work environment. To build and retain a workforce that reflects the diverse experiences and perspectives of the American people, we welcome applicants from the many communities, identities, races, ethnicities, backgrounds, abilities, religions, and cultures of the United States who share our commitment to public service.

Job Description

The Deputy Pardon Attorney reports directly to and supports the Pardon Attorney by supervising the work of OPA attorney-advisors and special attorneys, who are responsible for the review and evaluation of requests for all forms of executive clemency, determining the eligibility of prospective clemency applicants, evaluating the results of investigations, and making recommendations on each case. Provides high-level counsel and assistance to the Pardon Attorney on the legal and policy implications of clemency-related actions, as well as on the preparation, implementation and dissemination of policy guidance on matters of special importance and sensitivity. Handles clemency petitions of particular importance and prepares legal memoranda on complex and often delicate questions arising in the consideration of specific clemency issues for the guidance of the Pardon Attorney, Deputy Attorney General, and Counsel to the President. Oversees the drafting of clemency warrants for the President's signature and coordinates with Bureau of Prisons staff the actions necessary to effectuate grants of commutation of sentence. With the Pardon Attorney, oversees and provides guidance to OPA attorneys, and also coordinates the training, mentoring, and case assignment of detailee attorneys from numerous DOJ components who contribute to the 2014 Clemency Initiative. Routinely engages with other components, including the Office of the Deputy Attorney General and United States Attorney offices across the country, to assure that appropriate input and guidance are available for consideration of all clemency cases. Consults with a variety of Department of Justice components concerning clemency-related issues and litigation. Works closely with the Pardon Attorney and the OPA Executive Officer to develop budgetary priorities in order to effectively and efficiently process a growing and time-sensitive workload. Participates in meetings and seminars in order to provide an overview of the executive clemency process from a federal prospective to a variety of audiences.


Applicants must possess a J.D. degree, be an active member of the bar (any jurisdiction), have at least three years of supervisory experience, and have a minimum of 10 years post-J.D. experience. Expertise in criminal law, from either the prosecutorial or defender perspective or both, as well as a thorough understanding and experience with sentencing law, are a plus. Applicants must demonstrate exceptional legal, analytical, policy, and writing skills, as well as the ability to manage and prioritize a sizable and growing workload and to meet deadlines under pressure.

Application Process

This position is only open to current DOJ employees. Applicants must submit a cover letter (highlighting relevant experience) and a resume. Please reference this announcement, OPA-ATY-15-002, in your cover letter as well as the subject line of email submissions. Applications must be received by no later than 11:59 PM EST on November 14, 2014. Applicants are encouraged to email applications to or fax to 202-616-6069 rather than mail them. No telephone calls please.

U.S. Department of Justice
Office of the Pardon Attorney
Attn: Will Taylor, Acting Administrative Officer
1425 New York Ave., N.W., Room 11000
Washington, D.C. 20530

For more information about OPA, please visit our Web page at: . This and selected other legal position announcements may be found on the Internet at: and


The salary range for this position is GS-15 ($124,995 - $157,100).

Number of Positions
Limited travel may be required.
Relocation Expenses
Relocation expenses will not be authorized.

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Department Policies

Equal Employment Opportunity:  The U.S. Department of Justice is an Equal Opportunity/Reasonable Accommodation Employer.  Except where otherwise provided by law, there will be no discrimination because of race, color, religion, national origin, sex - including gender identity, sexual orientation, or pregnancy status - or because of age (over 40), physical or mental disability, protected genetic information, parental status, marital status, political affiliation, or any other non-merit based factor.  The Department of Justice welcomes and encourages applications from persons with physical and mental disabilities. The Department is firmly committed to satisfying its affirmative obligations under the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, to ensure that persons with disabilities have every opportunity to be hired and advanced on the basis of merit within the Department of Justice. For more information, please review our full EEO Statement.

Reasonable Accommodations:  This agency provides reasonable accommodation to applicants with disabilities where appropriate. If you need a reasonable accommodation for any part of the application and hiring process, please notify the agency.  Determinations on requests for reasonable accommodation will be made on a case-by-case basis.

Outreach and Recruitment for Qualified Applicants with Disabilities:  The Department encourages qualified applicants with disabilities, including individuals with targeted/severe disabilities to apply in response to posted vacancy announcements.  Qualified applicants with targeted/severe disabilities may be eligible for direct hire, non-competitive appointment under Schedule A (5 C.F.R. § 213.3102(u)) hiring authority.  Individuals with disabilities are encouraged to contact one of the Department’s Disability Points of Contact (DPOC) to express an interest in being considered for a position. See list of DPOCs.   

Suitability and Citizenship:  It is the policy of the Department to achieve a drug-free workplace and persons selected for employment will be required to pass a drug test which screens for illegal drug use prior to final appointment.  Employment is also contingent upon the completion and satisfactory adjudication of a background investigation. Congress generally prohibits agencies from employing non-citizens within the United States, except for a few narrow exceptions as set forth in the annual Appropriations Act (see, Pursuant to DOJ component policies, only U.S. citizens are eligible for employment with the Executive Office for Immigration Review, U.S. Trustee’s Offices, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Unless otherwise indicated in a particular job advertisement, qualifying non-U.S. citizens meeting immigration and appropriations law criteria may apply for employment with other DOJ organizations. However, please be advised that the appointment of non-U.S. citizens is extremely rare; such appointments would be possible only if necessary to accomplish the Department's mission and would be subject to strict security requirements. Applicants who hold dual citizenship in the U.S. and another country will be considered on a case-by-case basis. All DOJ employees are subject to a residency requirement. Candidates must have lived in the United States for at least three of the past five years. The three-year period is cumulative, not necessarily consecutive. Federal or military employees, or dependents of federal or military employees serving overseas, are excepted from this requirement. This is a Department security requirement which is waived only for extreme circumstances and handled on a case-by-case basis.

Veterans:  There is no formal rating system for applying veterans' preference to attorney appointments in the excepted service; however, the Department of Justice considers veterans' preference eligibility as a positive factor in attorney hiring. Applicants eligible for veterans' preference must include that information in their cover letter or resume and attach supporting documentation (e.g., the DD 214, Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty and other supporting documentation) to their submissions. Although the "point" system is not used, per se, applicants eligible to claim 10-point preference must submit Standard Form (SF) 15, Application for 10-Point Veteran Preference, and submit the supporting documentation required for the specific type of preference claimed (visit the OPM website, for a copy of SF 15, which lists the types of 10-point preferences and the required supporting document(s). Applicants should note that SF 15 requires supporting documentation associated with service- connected disabilities or receipt of nonservice-connected disability pensions to be dated 1991 or later except in the case of service members submitting official statements or retirement orders from a branch of the Armed Forces showing that their retirement was due to a permanent service-connected disability or that they were transferred to the permanent disability retired list (the statement or retirement orders must indicate that the disability is 10% or more).

USAO Residency Requirement:  Assistant United States Attorneys must reside in the district to which appointed or within 25 miles thereof.  See 28 U.S.C. 545 for district specific information.

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This and other vacancy announcements can be found under Attorney Vacancies and Volunteer Legal Internships. The Department of Justice cannot control further dissemination and/or posting of information contained in this vacancy announcement. Such posting and/or dissemination is not an endorsement by the Department of the organization or group disseminating and/or posting the information.

Updated April 7, 2016