As Donald Trump presidency drew to a close, he issued pardons to a number of celebrities, one of them being James Rosemond, known as "Jimmy Henchman," a former player in the hip-hop industry before he was sentenced to nine life terms for drug trafficking and murder for hire.
A years-long campaign by attorneys and celebrity advocates (including NFL great Jim Brown) claiming Rosemond was wrongfully convicted finally caught Trump's attention, and he told those advocating for Rosemond that he'd be home by Christmas. As the Seattle Times points out, Rosemond's representatives say that they were told his family should go pick him up the following week.
But after a decade in prison, Rosemond never came out and his family returned home devastated. Trump left office two months later.
Rosemond's attorneys filed a petitionThursday afternoon in federal court in West Virginia, arguing that Trump's promise that Rosemond would be released constituted a public communication that he was commuting Rosemond's sentence, which they said is enough to make the decision binding.
"Rosemond is serving a sentence that no longer exists," his attorneys wrote.
Mark Osler, a professor of law at the University of St. Thomas in Minnesota, said that the argument "presents a fascinating question that hasn't been addressed in modern times."
"They've got a good point, which is that the Constitution does not set out a method to the granting of clemency," Osler said. While in other cases, presidents, including Trump, signed pardon warrants, "there's no statute or constitutional provision that requires that."
Read more at the Seattle Times.