McGeorge School of Law

Clemency Study Complete

May 19, 2008

Professors Linda Carter and Mary-Beth Moylan

Professors Linda Carter and Mary-Beth Moylan

Professors Linda Carter and Mary-Beth Moylan have completed a year-long study of clemency in capital cases. The study was done at the request of the California Commission on the Fair Administration of Justice, a State Senate-appointed committee charged with evaluating and making recommendations to the Legislature to improve the criminal justice system in all cases in California.

The study included interviews with legal affairs secretaries to every governor from the current Schwarzenegger administration all the way back to the administration of Pat Brown. Among others, Judge Arthur Alarcon of the 9 th Circuit (one of Pat Brown’s clemency secretaries), Ed Meese (Ronald Reagan’s legal affairs secretary), and former Governors Gray Davis and George Deukmejian were among the interviewees.

In late March, Carter and Moylan testified at the commission’s third and final hearing on the death penalty at Santa Clara University and reported a sharp decline in grants of clemency in the last 40 years compared with earlier in the 20th Century.

Five McGeorge law students were involved in research on the project and in the interviews. The report and recommendations that were submitted to the Commission is available on the Commission’s website at and has also been submitted for publication to various journals.