Rep. John Coyners, Jr. (D-Mich.) called on President Barack Obama to reconsider the clemency case of Alabama first-time offender Clarence Aaron in a letter Tuesday.
Coyners’s letter calls on Obama to order Attorney General Eric Holder to investigate the “alleged mishandling” of the case, a day after national legal reform group Families Against Mandatory Minimums asked for a Senate investigation into the Justice Department’s Office of the Pardon Attorney, citing Aaron’s case and a ProPublica story that said whites were four times more likely to receive pardons than minorities.
Coyners, the ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee, said that if the allegations in the ProPublica story are true, than Aaron’s case merits “immediate reconsideration.”
Aaron was given three life sentences in 1993 for conspiracy to distribute cocaine and possession of cocaine with intent to distribute. He was present at the sale of nine kilograms of cocaine and present at the conversion of one kilogram to crack, according to the story, but refused to testify against his friends, claiming he didn’t know anything that would be of use to the federal government, according to ProPublica’s report.
He request for clemency was denied in 2004 and again in 2008 by Pardon Attorney Ronald L. Rodgers, despite support from the judge who sentenced him and former U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Alabama David York. Both requests were made under the George W. Bush administration. Coyners’s letter was co-signed by Rep. Bobby Scott (D-Va.), ranking member of the House Subcommittee on crime, terrorism and homeland security.
The Justice Department could not be immediately reached for comment.