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Does the governor see all pardon applications?


Does the governor see all pardon applications?

On behalf of Patrick T. McNally, Attorney at Law | 
January 4, 2020

In the state of Tennessee, the governor has the authority to grant pardons and commutations. So it is natural to think that the governor is certain to see your application for a pardon. However, some pardon applications may not even reach the desk of the governor. There are certain hurdles a pardon application must clear first.

According to the Tennessee Bar Association, the Tennessee Board of Parole is the actual body that receives and reviews requests for pardons and commutations. An application that meets procedural requirements will proceed to the complete board, who will vote on whether or not to grant a formal hearing. The hearing will result in a nonbinding recommendation that the board sends to the governor, who has the final say in whether to grant clemency.

The statutory duty of the board is to present the governor with recommendations that address every request made for a pardon. However, in practice the board might keep some requests from reaching the governor. They might vote down a formal hearing to make a recommendation on an application. As a result, the application is not sent to the governor.

Additionally, an application for a pardon might not reach the governor due to procedural problems. Staff members on the board who initially screen pardon applications determine whether they meet certain standards, such as how complete the application is. If needed information is omitted on the request, the board will notify an applicant about the omission.

Asking an attorney for assistance may provide you with the needed guidance to give your application the best possible chance of making it through the board to receive a recommendation. The pardon process can be difficult, and results are unpredictable. For this reason, do not read this article as legal advice, only as general information.

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