Written by Nate Raymond for Reuters
(Reuters) – A federal appeals court on Thursday said a former U.S. Army officer’s acceptance of a pardon from former Republican President Donald Trump did not constitute a confession of guilt that would bar him from challenging his convictions for murdering two Afghan civilians.
The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals’ ruling in favor of former First Lieutenant Clint Lorance appeared to mark the first time a federal appeals court has ever decided whether accepting a presidential pardon amounts to a legal confession of guilt.
“the pardon was instead merely agnostic as to Lorance’s guilt, not purporting to speak to guilt or innocence (Reuters).”
– Senior U.S. Circuit Judge David Ebel
A lower-court judge in Kansas had concluded the 2019 pardon did constitute a confession, citing the 1915 U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Burdick v. United States that stated “a pardon carries an imputation of guilt; acceptance a confession of it.”
But Senior U.S. Circuit Judge David Ebel declined to adopt that “draconian” reading of Burdick, saying the statement was an aside, or dicta, in the court’s overall holding on the legal effect of someone’s unaccepted pardon.
Ebel said no court since had ever held that accepting a pardon was akin to confessing guilt and that the ruling instead simply meant that accepting one “only makes the pardonee look guilty by implying or imputing that he needs the pardon.”
Read the full story at Reuters