At the state and federal levels, the pardon power can be used to restore the dignity and legal rights lost by a criminal conviction. Unfortunately, those facing similar consequences from municipal convictions may not have access to a pardon. Although clemency is exceedingly rare at any level of government, municipal defendants face a unique structural problem that deprives them of the possibility of a pardon. Specifically, many cities have simply failed to create a local clemency power. This Note argues that the authority to grant pardons for municipal offenses is part of the toolbox of powers provided to cities through the doctrine of home rule. Accordingly, cities do not have to wait for the permission of their parent states to create a local clemency power. By failing to advocate for a local interpretation of clemency, cities are missing a valuable opportunity to help municipal defendants overcome the stigma and collateral consequences that accompany municipal convictions. While existing scholarship largely ignores the application of clemency to municipal law, this Note offers a legal framework for reimagining the next frontier of clemency.
The Municipal Pardon Power,
Mich. L. Rev.
Available at: https://repository.law.umich.edu/mlr/vol118/iss4/5