Office of the Pardon Attorney
Department of Justice
Please be aware that the email address of PardonAttorneyFOIA@usdoj.gov is provided so that requests under the "Freedom of Information Act" ("FOIA") can be electronically submitted to the Office of the Pardon Attorney. When sending an email, please provide your full name and mailing address.
ANY EMAIL THAT IS NOT A "FOIA" REQUEST WILL BE DELETED WITHOUT A RESPONSE.
If you want to request information or clemency applications, support a clemency applicant, or request the status of a pending clemency application, please email the Office of the Pardon Attorney here.
As a general matter, Presidents in recent times have rarely announced their reasons for granting or denying clemency, although the President may choose to do so in a given case. Consistent with long-standing policy, if the President does not issue a public statement concerning his action in a clemency matter, no explanation is provided by the Department of Justice. Moreover, deliberative communications pertaining to agency and presidential decision-making are confidential and not available under existing case law interpreting the Freedom of Information Act and Privacy Act. See 28 CFR § 1.5
Petitions, reports, memoranda, and communications submitted or furnished in connection with the consideration of a petition for executive clemency generally shall be available only to the officials concerned with the consideration of the petition. However, they may be made available for inspection, in whole or in part, when in the judgment of the Attorney General their disclosure is required by law or the ends of justice.
Many documents are available to the public without having to make a FOIA request. These documents are called "proactive disclosures" because they are automatically posted online by Department components.
The Office of the Pardon Attorney receives and reviews petitions for all forms of executive clemency, including pardon, commutation (reduction) of sentence, remission of fine or restitution, and reprieve. It also initiates the necessary investigations of clemency requests, and prepares the report and recommendation of the Attorney General, or his designee, to the President on each clemency request. This office maintains a clemency case file for each individual who has applied for or has been granted or denied clemency. The office also acts as liaison with the public for correspondence and informational inquiries about the clemency process or particular clemency issues, and maintains correspondence files relating to such inquiries. The office serves as the repository of historical records pertaining to the granting of clemency, and maintains copies of the warrants and proclamations of clemency granted by the President. It also maintains records relating to the administration of the office.
DOJ Reference Guide:
A comprehensive guide to the FOIA that serves as a handbook for obtaining information from the Department.
Special information required to make a FOIA request:
For clemency files, the full name of the person who applied for or was granted or denied clemency. For miscellaneous correspondence files, the full name of the author of the letter and full name of the person on whose behalf the letter was written (if different). For FOIA files, the full name of the person who made the FOIA request.
Release of Applicant Names:
In accordance with the ruling by the federal court of the District of Columbia in Lardner v. Department of Justice, 638 F.Supp.2d 14 (D.D.C. 2009), affirmed, Lardner v. United States Department of Justice, No. 09-5337, 2010 WL 4366062 (D.C. Cir. Oct. 28, 2010) (unpublished), the Office of the Pardon Attorney is obliged to release existing lists of the names of persons who have been denied executive clemency by the President to anyone who requests such records pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act. Given the frequency of such requests, the Office of the Pardon Attorney has started to proactively disclose the names of persons who have been denied executive clemency by the President on our website, in accordance with our Freedom of Information Act obligations.