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CUA Law Alumna’s Pro Bono Client Granted Clemency

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On Thursday, January 19, 2017, former President Obama granted commutation of sentences to 330 federal prisoners in one of his final acts as President. One of those was Bernard Smith, a nonviolent drug offender, who was represented by CUA Law alumna Michelle Curth '12.

Curth, argued that under today's laws Smith’s sentence likely would have been 11 years shorter. She said that Smith had learned his lesson and owned up to his crime — he asked for a commutation, not a pardon, which would have erased the original conviction. Smith hopes to get licensed in heating and air conditioning maintenance and has lined up family members to help with his adjustment.

"This entire clemency initiative is developed specifically for cases like this – a nonviolent individual who got caught up in something illegal, and fell into the crack of the statutory scheme in place at the time of his arrest," Curth said.

Smith is now eligible for release in January of 2019.

During Curth’s time as a student, CUA Law instilled the importance of social justice and pro bono work. “I am happy to carry on the strong CUA Law tradition of pro bono work along side my Securities Law practice,” she said.

Click here to read the full press coverage regarding the commutation from Rolling Stone and AP