Blount v. ClarkeAnnotate this Case
In 2008, the circuit court found Defendant guilty of multiple non-homicide offenses that he had committed as a juvenile. Defendant was sentenced to six consecutive life terms. In 2012, Defendant filed a federal habeas petition contending that his life sentences were unconstitutional under Graham v. Florida. While discovery was pending, Defendant filed a request for a conditional pardon with the Governor’s office. The Governor issued an executive order granting Defendant a commutation of sentence and reduced his term of incarceration for a total of forty years. The Commonwealth subsequently argued that the Governor’s commutation of Defendant’s sentence made Defendant’s petition for habeas corpus moot. Defendant responded by claiming that the Governor’s executive order may only be construed as a “conditional pardon.” The district court granted Defendant’s motion to continue, ruling that the Governor did not have the authority to commute a non-capital offense. The federal district court certified two questions of law to the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court answered (1) the executive order from the Governor constitutes a partial pardon; and (2) the Governor’s actions were valid under the Virginia Constitution.