The New Jersey Supreme Court has ruled that a man whose two criminal convictions were pardoned by Gov. Chris Christie is entitled to expungement of those offenses even though a statute bars such relief for defendants with more than one conviction.
In a unanimous ruling, the justices said the pardon Christie issued to defendant Tommy Odom in 2018 did not erase the facts of his offenses, but removed “legal disabilities” linked to the convictions, thereby dissolving a statutory bar to expungement.
The court issued its ruling after receiving an amicus curiae brief from the state’s nine surviving former governors, who argued that the power to pardon is not subject to limitation by the Legislature or by judicial review, and that it dissolves all legal disabilities arising from a pardoned conviction. That brief was submitted and argued by Guillermo Artiles of McCarter & English on behalf of Christie as well as Jon Corzine, Richard Codey, James McGreevey, John Bennett, Donald DiFrancesco, Christine Todd Whitman, James Florio, and Thomas Kean Sr.
William Palatucci represented Odom at the Appellate Division while with the Gibbons firm in Newark. Palatucci is now at another Newark firm, McCarter & English.
“The reason every living former governor signed on to it was because it was important to stand up for the constitutional power of the executive,” Palatucci said. “The constitutional power of the executive wins the day, and that’s an important issue,” he said.
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