On Oct. 6, President Obama granted clemency to 102 inmates as part of his policy of reducing sentences for nonviolent drug offenders. One of those inmates, Charles Woolsey of West Baden Springs, Ind., was a Taft pro bono client represented by Russell Menyhart of Taft’s Indianapolis office.
Woolsey was convicted of nonviolent drug offenses in 2005 and was originally given a 300-month sentence. However, the 7th Circuit ordered that under the sentencing requirements in place at the time, Woolsey had to receive a mandatory life sentence based on his nonviolent criminal history (including a 30-year-old minor marijuana possession charge in another state that could have been expunged). Woolsey was selected for representation through the national Clemency Project, an initiative that has sought clemency for thousands of nonviolent offenders who would have received shorter sentences under current federal sentencing guidelines.
President Obama’s approval of Woolsey’s clemency petition means that Woolsey’s sentence will be reduced from life imprisonment to 300 months. Woolsey, 65 years old, now has renewed hope of eventually being released to rejoin his family. President Obama has now granted clemency to 774 federal inmates serving long sentences for nonviolent drug offenses.
Menyhart is an of counsel attorney in Taft’s Litigation and Business & Finance groups. In addition to working on public service projects and assuming leadership positions on boards, Menyhart and other Taft attorneys provide legal services to groups and individuals who otherwise are unable to afford them.