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Public Defender Named U.S. Pardon Attorney, With 18K-Case Backlog

The Justice Department named Elizabeth Oyer as the U.S. Pardon Attorney, with responsibility for leading and directing the work of the Office of the Pardon Attorney. Oyer was Senior Litigation Counsel to the Office of the Federal Public Defender for Maryland, where she represented indigent defendants in federal district court. She handled a wide variety of criminal cases, ranging from complex fraud to drug and gun offenses, as well as violent crimes. Oyer also was the office's ethics and conflicts advisor, discovery policy coordinator, and a mentor to junior attorneys. She had been a partner in the Washington, D.C., office of Mayer Brown LLP, where she practiced civil and criminal litigation.


Law Prof. Mark Osler of the University of St. Thomas Minneapolis tweeted, "We've had acting pardon attorneys for the past five or six years, so it means something that Pres. Biden has actually filled this slot. It's also significant -- and positive -- that he has given a career defender an important job in the Department of Justice. However, this doesn't "fix" the backlog of petitions -- or promise a future fix of the backlog ... There are over 18,000 pending petitions, many of them now years old (including unresolved petitions from the Obama administration). It's a mess ... The whole thing needs reform."

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