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December 3, 2010

President Obama finally grants first pardons of his presidency!!

At long last, and only 682 days into his presidency, President Barack Obama has finally made some use of his constitutional pardon authority.  Everyone should thanks PS Ruckman for providing in this post these specific details about the nine grants today:

Six out of the nine pardons were granted to individuals whose violations were so minor they were not even given prison sentences, only probation. Story developing!

James Bernard Banks (1972) UT, illegal possession of government property (2 years probation)
James Dixon (1960) GA, liquor violations (2 years probation)
Laurens Dorsey (1998) NY, false statements (5 years probation, restitution)
Ronald Lee Foster (1963) NC, coin mutilation (1 year probation. fine)
Timothy James Gallagher (1982) AZ, cocaine (3 years probation)
Roxanne Kay Hettinger (1986) IA, cocaine (30 days, 3 years probation)
Edgar Leopold Kranz, Jr. (1994) military (24 months)
Floretta Leavy (1984) IL, cocaine/marijuana (1 year and 1 day)
Scoey Lathaniel Morris (1999) TX, counterfeiting (3 years probation, fine)

I hope to blog more on this front after answering 1L question about their upcoming Crim Law exam. In the meantime, everyone should check out Pardon Power for coverage (and await surely forthcoming commentary from Margaret Colgate Love and other pardon pundits).

December 3, 2010 at 04:39 PM | Permalink

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Comments

Coin mutilation?

http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/18/331.html

It says "fraudulently" "alters, defaces, mutilates, etc." so I'm assuming what I did at the railroad track when I was ten wasn't a felony. Or else all those vendors who operate those coin press machines at gift shops are in trouble.

Posted by: Buffalo Bill | Dec 3, 2010 5:04:26 PM

Buffalo Bill,

Actually, I believe there are now new laws against defacing pennies. (maybe other coins as well?) Mostly used to keep people from melting them down for the copper as the metal is now worth more than the coins. So I wouldn't be so sure the coin press machines would be in the clear. There might be a 1st amendment defense in that case.

And as Mark Shepard has said on prior occasions where pardons came up, this seems pretty meaningless in the grand scheme of government action. It's great for these nine, but overall so what?

Posted by: Soronel Haetir | Dec 3, 2010 5:26:43 PM

Interesting, I can see that as a new concern. I read "fraudulently" in the statute to mean that the law was meant to apply to persons who might deface a plain old coin to pass it off as a rare legal tender (I don't know, alter the year of minting, perhaps).

In the end, does pardoning old convicts for minor crimes amount to a significant difference in this day and age? Of course it represents importance for these individuals who applied for the pardons, and certainly even old drug convictions may hold persons back for employment purposes many years into the future. Still, as their pardons are now national news, anyone using Google can find out about what they did in the past what they otherwise would not have ordinarily known if they were not pardoned.

Posted by: Buffalo Bill | Dec 3, 2010 5:42:47 PM

The coin press machines I've seen all quote the statute, and have a little explanation claiming that it means what Buffalo Bill says -- no crime if no fraudulent intent.

Posted by: Jay | Dec 5, 2010 12:10:54 PM

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