Washington D.C.- With years of expertise as a former U.S Attorney working within the Department of Justice, Right On Crime Executive Director Brett Tolman spoke to lawmakers today about a violation of constitutional rights and a vindictive retrial of Philip Esformes. Testifying to the U.S. House of Representatives Subcommittee on Crime and Federal Government Surveillance of the Committee on the Judiciary, Tolman said every American’s right to clemency is a last line of defense against an unjust government.

The Judiciary Act of 1789 tells us that the mandate of the Department of Justice (DOJ) is to ensure fair and impartial administration of justice for all Americans.  Tolman testified, “Philip Esformes deserves no less.”

Tolman continued, “Yet, DOJ appears determined to deny Mr. Esformes that justice, which is supposed to be the bedrock of the American legal system. DOJ’s unflinching decision to retry Mr. Esformes on the open counts betrays its prior representations to the court, nullifies a presidential Grant of Clemency, and what should concern us all, it is nakedly vindictive.”

Individuals seeking clemency must send their petitions first to DOJ, although few petitions survive the many levels of review and other burdensome requirements. It’s a system with a strong structural bias against clemency that practically begs for conflicts of interest.

The result is that the American people are robbed of the meaningful exercise of a core constitutional power. 

Clemency, appropriately used, can remedy government abuses or overreach, correct legal mistakes, account for rehabilitation or changed circumstances, or even respond to the shift of legal or cultural mores. It is explicitly enumerated in the U.S. Constitution.

“Congress can apply pressure in the defense of Mr. Esformes’ rights and on behalf of the many others who find themselves unjustly in DOJ’s crosshairs,” said Tolman. “Clemency can and should represent a last line of defense against such injustices. I commend this Committee for doing its part ensuring that it remains one.”

Tolman’s full testimony can be found here.

Right On Crime is a national initiative of the Texas Public Policy Foundation supporting conservative solutions for reducing crime, restoring victims, reforming offenders, and lowering taxpayer costs.

To request an interview with Mr. Tolman, email [email protected].