In a state where the governor has power (Do (any) US State Governors have legal authority to preemptively pardon persons of a state crime?) to pardon a capital crime before prosecution, does a prosecutor who learns of the governor's intent to pardon have any way to force prosecution?

  • 2
    By “force prosecution”, do you mean “overrule their power of pardon”, or “force a trial which, even if it resulted in a conviction, would have no legal effect”?
    – Sneftel
    Commented May 18, 2023 at 17:14
  • I meant force a trial, even if it results in a conviction. The point is to achieve a conviction. Commented May 18, 2023 at 18:07
  • There are some states where the Governor does not have the sole right to issue a pardon (For example Texas, which must be voted on by the Pardon and Parole board and then signed by the Governor). It would follow thusly that this answer depends on a review of every state constitution and the limits of the pardoning power. As a general rule, this would be a no, as most states copy the U.S. Constitution, where the Presidential Pardons cannot be challenged save for voting out of office or impeachment. There's a reason why most presidents issue pardons while they are lame ducks.
    – hszmv
    Commented May 18, 2023 at 18:08
  • The trivial answer is that when the Governor might pardon someone who hasn't been convicted of something that a prosecutor can commence a criminal case which the prosecutor may or may not be able to conclude with a verdict on the merits prior to the Governor's action if the Governor does act. The fact that the Governor is thinking about pardoning someone doesn't prevent a prosecutor from commencing a criminal case. But if the Governor does pardon that person before there is a verdict, the effort to prosecute the case was a waste of time and money. It isn't clear that this is what was asked.
    – ohwilleke
    Commented May 18, 2023 at 18:19

1 Answer 1


There is no recourse

The Pardon results in the pardoned person having no liability for the act, no matter if it was a crime or not, and no matter whether the pardon pre-dates a prosecution. There is no legal or political way to appeal a pardon. There isn't even a way to take back a pardon! As a result, the prosecutor or the next governor can do nothing.


You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .