Friday, March 21, 2008
With the recent disbarment of I. "Scooter" Libby, there have been questions regarding the effect of the president commuting his sentence on his later disciplinary matter. The bottom line is - probably none. This issue was examined in the context of Eliot Abrams, the former Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs. In the case In re Abrams, 689 A.2d 6 (1997), the court held that a presidential pardon does not negate the ability of a disciplinary committee from imposing professional discipline. The Abrams case resulted after President Bush gave Abrams a "full and unconditional pardon" on Christmas Eve in 1992. Although there are four judges that offer a dissent in the Abrams case, the precedent remains for saying that a presidential commutation of sentence does not change the disciplinary board's decision.
(esp)(w/ a hat tip to Professor Greg Miller)