No one can expect mercy. No one has the right to be forgiven. Pardons live beyond the parameters of the criminal code’s black-and-white text. They are, by nature, extraordinary.
Rooted in part in the ancient doctrine that monarchs derive power directly from God, pardons are a discretionary tool often given to the executive branch — the president and the governor — to override court-ordered sanctions: to shorten a prison sentence, restore civil rights or eliminate the obligation to identify oneself as a felon.