On April 21, 2021, the Minnesota District Court in Ramsey County ruled that Minnesota’s unanimous pardon board law is unconstitutional.
Leading the charge for Ciresi Conlin were attorneys Barry Landy and Kyle Wislocky, who represented Governor Tim Walz in the litigation. “We are incredibly proud of the achievements of our legal team,” said partner Jan Conlin. “Their creative legal arguments and perseverance will help this administration change the way pardons are granted in the State of Minnesota.”
The case was initially brought by an individual who was denied a pardon by the 3-member Board by a vote of 2-1. Although Governor Walz voted in favor of the pardon, Minnesota statutes attempted to give remove power from the Governor and required a unanimous vote of every board member.
Governor Walz joined the plaintiff’s challenge to the unconstitutionality of the Board of Pardons statute, bringing on Ciresi Conlin to represent him in the case. As part of their motion for summary judgment, Barry and Kyle successfully argued that the unanimity requirement was unconstitutional because the constitution grants the Governor pardon power “separate and apart” from the Board of Pardons.
“This ruling will allow pardons to play their proper role in Minnesota's constitutional scheme and will allow for more pardons to be granted," Kyle Wislocky said. “It’s about more than just one case; the Court's decision will positively impact the entire pardon process going forward in Minnesota.”
“Our firm was honored to represent the office of the Governor in this case and help ensure that all Minnesotans have a fair opportunity to receive clemency,” added Barry Landy. “The ideas of mercy, forgiveness, and fresh starts are vital to making Minnesota’s criminal justice system more equitable and the Court’s decision is an important step in that direction.”
Read more about the case here.