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Virtual Hearing Instructions

Prepare for Your Hearing:

  • To prepare for your hearing, we suggest that you familiarize yourself with the contents of your Application for Clemency.

  • When your hearing is scheduled, you will receive a link to join the session from our office.

  • Make sure you have a good internet connection. If you do not have a device or internet access:
              • Locate a public library near you
              • Check shipping stores like UPS and FedEx. They may have rental workstations available.
              • Contact your local state legislator to see if they can help.

  • Be sure that the device you are using is charged.

  • If you do not have Zoom you can download it here.

  • Please be sure to have Zoom installed, setup and ready to go prior to your hearing.

  • If you need assistance getting started with a Zoom meeting, please view the following tutorial.

  • If you have individuals that wish to show their support, they may attend alongside you during your virtual hearing; however, due to time constraints, it is the desire of this Board that they express their support in writing and submit it to the Board of Pardons office at least two (2) weeks prior to the hearing.

Get your space ready:

  • Find a quiet place with no interruptions or distractions.

  • If you are in a vehicle, please do not drive during your hearing.

Joining Zoom Session:

  • When you join, you will be placed in the waiting room until the Board is ready to hear your case.
    Please note:  The time each case takes varies depending on questions from the Board, technical difficulties, etc., therefore, it is difficult to predict how long an applicant can expect to wait.

  • Once the session begins, the Lieutenant Governor will provide opening remarks.

  • Because applicants sometimes fail to appear or have difficulties connecting, your case may be called sooner than you expect once the session starts. It is very important that you actively monitor Zoom while you are in the waiting room.

During Your Hearing:

  • When the Board is ready to hear your case, the session moderator will let you in.
  • When you join, the session moderator will then prompt you to unmute yourself and start your video so the Board can hear and see you during your hearing.

  • When you are admitted and introduced, the Lieutenant Governor will turn it over to the rest of the Board for questions they may have. In some cases, given the relatively straight forward nature of the crimes and the fact that they occurred some time ago, a hearing may go very quickly. We do wish to confirm that extensive preparation for the session has been done by each member of the Board prior to the hearing.

  • If you are represented by counsel, you must begin your presentation by addressing the Board and responding to the Board's questions. If counsel wishes to add anything relevant to your presentation or to summarize, counsel may request permission to speak following your presentation and responses to any questions by the Board.
  • If you are having technical difficulties, the session moderator will place you back in the waiting room so you can resolve the issue(s). The moderator will come back to you at the end of the session to try again. If you are still having technical issues, your case may be continued to another hearing day or session.

Technical Difficulties:

We Can’t See You:  During your hearing the Board must be able to see you.
              • Does your device have a camera?
              • If so, is the camera enabled and working properly?
              • If you are using a laptop device, make sure the lens cover is open.
We Can't Hear You:  During your hearing the Board may have questions for you.
          • Does your device have a microphone?
          • If so, is the microphone enabled and working properly?
You Can't Hear Us:   During your hearing the Board may discuss your case and have questions.
              • Does your device use speakers?
              • Are your speakers turned on?
              • Do you have the volume turned up?
We Hear Delays & Feedback:  Typically, this happens when you have more than one instance of the session running at a time.
              • Do you have the session running on multiple devices? If so, close all instances except the one you are currently using.
              • Do you have the session running in multiple tabs of the browser? If so, close all tabs on your browser except for the one you are currently using.

After Your Hearing:

  • After your hearing, the rest of the scheduled cases will be heard before the Board goes into a private Executive Session to discuss the cases. At the conclusion of the Executive Session, the Board will return and call the vote.

  • The votes are called in the same order the hearings were held.

  • Voting goes quickly. If you do not closely monitor PA Cast Website during Executive Session, you may miss it.

  • A public vote will be taken at the conclusion of all the hearings. The following are the possible application outcomes:

              • Application Recommended – The Board is recommending to the Governor that clemency be granted to you.  In order to receive a recommendation to the Governor, applicants need three (3) affirmative votes from the Board (a majority vote). Incarcerated applicants convicted of a crime of violence and serving a life or death sentence need five (5) affirmative votes from the Board (a unanimous vote).
              • Application Denied – A recommendation for clemency will not be granted at this time.
              • Held Under Advisement - In some cases, a Board Member may make a motion to hold a case under advisement.  If the motion is seconded, a vote will be taken to hold the case under advisement until a future time.  This could be done for various reasons if the Board is not prepared to vote on a case.  You will be advised if we need additional information from you.
              • Conditional Recommendation – In some cases, a Board Member may make a motion to recommend an application to the Governor but make it conditional.  If the motion is seconded, a vote will be taken to add conditional language to the recommendation to the Governor. You are not required to attend the public vote, and you will be notified in writing of the results of the public vote regarding your application for clemency.

  • The ultimate decision to accept or reject the Recommendation of the Board is solely at the discretion of the Governor; in addition, the Governor is not required to act on a recommendation within a specific period.  You will receive written notification from the Board of Pardons office when a decision has been made.