Attorney Stephen Cobb’s Views On Clemency Granted To Chelsea Manning
Executive clemency is rarely granted on the state or federal level. The Chelsea Manning case has received widespread media attention, but clemency is available on the state level for non-federal, state crimes.
In Florida, there are eight (8) types of clemency ranging from a full pardon to a restoration of alien status. There is also a separate type of clemency known as “conditional clemency”.
Clemency is strictly a function of the Executive branch of state government, and authorized by the Florida constitution pursuant to Article IV, Section 8(a). Except in treason cases and impeachment, the Governor may:
“suspend collection of fines and forfeitures, grant reprieves not exceeding sixty days and, with the approval of two members of the cabinet, grant full or conditional pardons, restore civil rights, commute punishment, and remit fines and forfeitures for offenses.”
Each different type of clemency in Florida has a series of forms, rules and procedures to follow. State clemency cases often take years, a lot of work and great political sensitivity is required. Timing is one of the most important elements.
Consider: would President Obama have commuted Chelsea Manning’s sentence in the middle of a political campaign? Absolutely not. Neither will Governor Rick Scott in a Florida case. Manning’s case was finalized less than half of a week before the President leaves office. Expect the same on the state level.