Skip navigation
× You have 2 more free articles available this month. Subscribe today.

Commutation Decision, Not Reasoning, Discloseable Under Act in Board of Pardon's Denial

Pennsylvania state prisoner Frank Senk sought review of the Board of Pardon's (Board) refusal to produce files related to the Board's continuous denial of his application for commutation. The court ruled that disclosure of the requested documents would operate to impair the personal security or reputation of those involved, and denied Senk's petition.

23 years into serving a life sentence and 10 commutation denials later, Senk sought the documents to determine the Board's reasoning. When the Board denied his request, he petitioned the court for disclosure under Pennsylvania Constitution art. IV, ' 9(B), which provides that "the Board shall keep records of its actions, which shall at all times be open for public inspection." The Board argued that its decision was discloseable but not its reasoning for denial. Senk argued that inspection was guaranteed under the Right to Know Act (Act). The Board contended that section 1(2) of the Act classified the requested documents as investigations undertaken by an agency in the performance of official duties and that such records did not contain decisions which affected the personal or property rights of any person, and were thus exempt.

The Second Division for the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania held that disclosure of the requested documents was protected under the Act and granted the Board's cross motion for judgment against disclosure. See: Senk v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Board of Pardons, 104 Pa.Cmwlth. 270, 521 A.2d 532 (Pa. Comwlth, 1987).

As a digital subscriber to Prison Legal News, you can access full text and downloads for this and other premium content.

Subscribe today

Already a subscriber? Login

Related legal case

Senk v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Board of Pardons