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Law School’s Clemency Clinic Praised, Encouraged,
and Supported by former Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.

 

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“You are the last waystation when it comes to justice,” Catholic University law students were reminded on Jan. 30 at a First Year Friday program about the importance of exercising legal tools in support of clemency. 

Speaking at a Friday evening reception that drew a large portion of the first year class, former Maryland Governor Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. (2003-2007) discussed the good work and vital importance of CUA Law’s Innocence Project Clinic and Clemency Project, which Ehrlich established a formal affiliation with more than a year ago as a way to permanently support an issue he cares deeply about.
 
His short speech to the gathered crowd marked at least the fourth time Ehrlich has addressed the issue of pardon and executive clemency at the Columbus School of Law.

Weighing prisoners’ requests for leniency was a high priority during his administration, and he has continued his activism in the field during his post-gubernatorial years in private legal practice.
 
His remarks, formally titled “Clemency – The Emerging Purple Issue,” took note of the fact that the issue of mercy toward deserving incarcerated inmates is neither red state nor blue state, liberal or conservative. In fact, “At first the issue was not hot, it was not purple, it was nowhere,” said Ehrlich.
 
Today, there appears to be slowly growing appreciation in state capitols across the nation of a governor’s unique powers of pardon, accompanied by, Ehrlich hopes, an increased willingness to use it.
 
“This issue touches more families that you would ever expect,” he stated. Beyond verbal support, Ehrlich has raised money for CUA Law’s Clemency Project, which he called “a model in the country for a law school clinic on this issue.”
 
Supervised by Professor Sandy Ogilvy, Catholic University’s Innocence Project Clinic offers students the opportunity to develop a wide range of lawyering skills, while providing direct assistance to inmates who have been convicted of violent crimes and sentenced to long jail sentences or to death, but who assert that they are actually innocent of the crimes for which they have been convicted. The Clemency Project expands the work on behalf of individuals seeking executive clemency in the form of a pardon or commutation of sentence.
 
The Project also functions as an informational resource for governors and their staffs across the country who want to engage more deeply with the issue.
 
Gov. Ehrlich’s remarks were co-sponsored by the Alumni Office, the Law and Public Policy Program and Student Life and Special Events.