News & Announcements

Weil Pro Bono Client Granted Presidential Clemency in 2016

Weil associates Andrea Ryken and Daniel Musher, under the supervision of counsel Adam Safwat, received a clemency grant from President Obama on behalf of a pro bono client, commuting his life sentence in prison. The client’s petition was filed as part of Weil’s participation in the Clemency Project, which was undertaken in response to the President’s initiative to commute federal prison sentences of non-violent, lower-level drug offenders who, due to previously harsh drug sentencing laws, were sentenced to terms of imprisonment of decades or even life. The petitioner was sentenced to mandatory life imprisonment at the age of 31 on drug distribution charges because he had two prior convictions for possession of a controlled substance, even though none of his offenses involved significant narcotics activity or violence.

Petitioner spent the last 18 years in prison, but if he were charged and  sentenced for the same crime today under present-day prosecutorial charging and federal sentencing guidelines, he would have very likely been sentenced to only 14-18 years.  While in prison, he had been a model inmate and mentor to younger inmates. He was also a prison-certified “mental companion” and helped other inmates dealing with anger, depression, or other mental trauma. He is expected to be released on March 22, 2017, and he is grateful to be able to celebrate his 50th birthday just one week later in person with his family.