To Applicants for Pardon
The following notice is provided pursuant to the Privacy Act of 1974 to help you to understand what is involved in petitioning for pardon and why we need to obtain certain information about you.
The information that we request from you on the accompanying pardon application form, and in any ensuing background investigation, is needed to develop the basis for an informed judgment about whether you should be granted a pardon. This is our only purpose in asking you to complete and sign the application and, if necessary, requesting that an investigation be made into your character and activities. You are under no obligation to furnish any information. However, if you do not provide all the information requested, we may be unable to process your application. Failure to provide your Social Security number will not prejudice your case.
Our authority for requesting the information solicited in the accompanying pardon application form is the United States Constitution, Article II, Section 2 (the pardon clause); Orders of the Attorney General Nos. 1798-93, 58 Fed. Reg. 53658 and 53659 (1993), 2317-2000, 65 Fed. Reg. 48381 (2000), and 2323-2000, 65 Fed. Reg. 58223 and 58224 (2000), codified in 28 C.F.R. §§ 1.1 et seq. (the rules governing petitions for executive clemency); and Order of the Attorney General No. 1012-83, 48 Fed. Reg. 22290 (1983), as codified in 28 C.F.R. §§ 0.35 and 0.36 (the authority of the Office of the Pardon Attorney).
In the course of investigating your application, an agent of the United States Government may interview you and those persons who have executed character affidavits or written letters of reference on your behalf. In addition, neighbors, former and present employers, associates, and other individuals who may be able to provide relevant information concerning you may be interviewed. While such inquiries are made discreetly and a reasonable effort is made not to disclose the underlying nature of the investigation, we cannot assure you that the reason for the inquiry will not become known to some or all of the persons interviewed.
After the President has taken favorable final action on an application, a public affairs notice is prepared describing each grant of clemency (such a notice may be prepared for a denial of clemency in cases of substantial public interest). A copy of each warrant of clemency is maintained in this office as a public and official record. Copies of the public affairs notices, clemency warrants, and lists of recent clemency recipients are routinely made available to the public upon request.
Executive clemency files are compiled and maintained to assist the President in exercising his constitutional pardon power and are routinely made available to him, members of his staff, and other government officials concerned with clemency proceedings. The Pardon Attorney may disclose the contents of executive clemency files to anyone when the disclosure is required by law or the ends of justice. In particular, public record documents that may be compiled in the course of processing a clemency application, such as the judgment order from the criminal case for which pardon is sought, trial or sentencing transcripts, court opinions, and newspaper articles, are generally made available upon request by third-parties (including representatives of the news media) pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act, unless such disclosure could reasonably be expected to constitute an unwarranted invasion of the petitioner's personal privacy. In addition, unsolicited Congressional correspondence is treated in the same manner. On the other hand, non-public documents that may be compiled in the course of processing a clemency application, such as the petition and supporting documents, the presentence investigation report, the results of any background investigation, and the report and recommendation of the Department of Justice to the President, are not generally available under the Freedom of Information Act.
The foregoing rules apply to the disclosure of documents in the possession of the Department of Justice. However, the President and his immediate staff are not subject to the constraints of the Freedom of Information and Privacy Acts. Accordingly, while clemency-related documents in the possession of the White House traditionally have not been made public, they may be legally disclosed at the discretion of the President. In addition, clemency-related documents retained by the White House at the end of a presidential administration will become part of the President's official library, where they become subject to the disclosure provisions of the Presidential Records Act.
Moreover, 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.
Forms Required for Pardon Application