Published on:

Pardon Me, but How Do I Request a Pardon from the Governor of Oregon?


From the Washington County (Oregon) Law Librarian:

How does one request a pardon? I wish I could say, “let me count the ways.” But I can’t and highly recommend you talk to your lawyer, if you have one, or that you call the Oregon State Bar (OSB) to find a lawyer who can advise you (or read this How to Find a Lawyer in Oregon guide, which also links to the OSB).

And here’s what else I’ve learned about Oregon pardons (for crimes committed under Oregon state law). There may be more in future posts and you can also let me know if you have anything to add:

1) Talk to your lawyer about how to control costs (and for more on attorney’s fees, read this). I’ve been told, however, that preparing a request for a pardon is not that expensive on the lawyer’s end (assuming the lawyer is familiar with “pardon law”), but the process does require the client to do a lot of homework and gather a lot of documentation.

2) Requesting a pardon is also a waiting game and a lottery; the odds are long and you have to play to win.

3) Requests for pardons are made to the Governor – and county District Attorneys are asked to weigh in – but start off by calling the Governor’s office and asking for any information or fact sheets or application instruction. (Maybe later I’ll write about requesting pardons for federal convictions – but I bet the news will be filled with that soon enough.)

4) You can also look up pardons in the ORS, starting in the Index with the words Pardons, Commutations, and Reprieves and continuing from there.

5) Look up a few quick general (not state-specific) definitions (here’s a list of legal dictionaries, print and online) for the following words, but you need to use your own state’s statutes and case law for specifics: Pardon, Expungement, Clemency, Commutation, Reprieve

6) Here are some recent articles on pardons in Oregon, but unless you know the process, prepare yourself for some interesting (that’s librarian-speak for serious) legal research:

a) The state of pardons in one state, from the Sentencing Law & Policy blog

b) A Willamette Week story, Jackpot: A bar owner who sold coke and a mom who sold meth are two of the lucky few to get a pardon from the governor (and then there is this story from Seattle).

c) Some 1872 Oregon pardons (and later ones too) (more Oregon Governor records)

d) One last story, from a Legal Assistant blog 2006 post: The Power to Pardon.

7) And here are some cites to some old Oregon Law Review articles about pardons. These articles are available in print in many law libraries and online via HeinOnline (free access for people with a Washington County public library card and available in other libraries too.)

a) Report of Committee on Pardons and Parole, 2 Oregon Law Review 213 (1923)

b) The Grounds of Pardon, by James D. Barnett, 6 Oregon Law Review 205 and 356 (conclusion) (1927)

c) The cases of Mooney and Billings (editorial note), 8 Oregon Law Review 374 (1929)

Go forth and research!

Contact Information