HOW DO I SUBMIT A FOIA REQUEST TO THE PARDON ATTORNEY
On March 7, 2019, The Office of the Pardon Attorney joined FOIA.gov to allow individuals who are interested in requesting records to make their request electronically. Going forward, all new FOIA requests may be submitted by visiting FOIA.gov, clicking Create a Request, and then typing Office of the Pardon Attorney as the agency. Then you will see a button for Start Request, which will allow you to enter information about yourself and the agency records that you seek to obtain.
Things to know before making a request
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.
Privacy Act Requests (1st person requests)
Would you like to request a copy of your own clemency casefile? If so, you will need to verify your identity as required by Department regulation 28 C.F.R. § 16.41(d) (2015). Specifically, if you would like this Office to process your request and search for responsive records in this Office, you will need to either (1) return a completed Certification of Identity form to this Office, or (2) provide a statement notarized or under penalty of perjury pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1746, indicating your full name, place of birth, date of birth, and current address. A Certification of Identity form is available online at http://www.justice.gov/oip/doj-reference-guide-attachment-d-copies-forms. See 28 C.F.R. § 16.3(a)(3)
Media Requests/3rd Party Requests
If you are a media outlet or third party requesting a portion of or the entire clemeny casefile of someone other than yourself, you will need to get the permission of the petitioner by having them complete a Certification of Identity form and listing your name in the Authorization to Release Information to Another Person section of the form. A Certification of Identity form is available online at http://www.justice.gov/oip/doj-reference-guide-attachment-d-copies-forms. See 28 C.F.R. § 16.3(a)(3)
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’s (Pardon Attorney) primary function is to receive, evaluate, and investigate clemency applications and prepare the recommendation of the Department as to the appropriate disposition of each application for the signature of the Deputy Attorney General and consideration by the President. The Pardon Attorney also responds to inquiries concerning executive clemency petitions and the clemency process from applicants, their legal representatives, members of the public, elected officials, and various federal, state, and local officials and agencies; prepares all necessary documents to effect the President’s decision to grant, as well as deny clemency; and notifies each clemency applicant of the President’s decision concerning his or her clemency request once such decisions are final. When requested by the White House, the Pardon Attorney also provides general advice to the President concerning executive clemency procedures and the historical background of clemency matters.
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 case files, please provide the full name of the person who applied, was granted or denied clemency, as well as the date or President you believe made the final disposition of the case.
Release of Denied 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 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. Conversely, we also proactively disclose the names of those who have been granted clemency and provide a dowloadable PDF file of the Presiden't clemency warrant for more recent administrations. We hope to make this information available through history as time and resources allow, but we do not have a timeframe for completing that task at this time.