TAMPA (FOX 13) - After a jury hands down a conviction and a judge issues a long sentence, a defendant's only real hope for freedom is usually a lengthy appeals process.
For this reason, two Bay Area attorneys say they never expected to get a once-in-a-lifetime call from the Department of Justice this year - granting their clients clemency by order of the President of the United States.
It's equivalent to a Hail Mary pass, or winning the lottery twice, which explains why attorneys Jordan Maglich and Matt Mueller are smiling a lot these days.
"To be able to call someone and tell them that, 'you're not going to die in prison. You're gonna get out and see your family in a few months,' is something I don't get to do ever as an attorney," Maglich said.
Maglich and Mueller were able to do that for their clients after getting an unexpected call from the Department of Justice.
"I informed him that President Obama has granted his petition for clemency and [he was] getting out in December," Mueller recalled.
To show you what a long shot it is to be granted clemency, visit the DOJ's website for a list of hundreds of inmates whose petitions for clemency were rejected this year by President Obama.
"We absolutely beat the odds," explained Mueller.
Two years ago, Maglich and Mueller volunteered for a clemency project.
Mueller's client, Titus Mobley was convicted of a low-level drug offense and got close to 18 years in prison. It was far worse for Maglich's client, Ignatizo Giuliano, who got life in prison for a non-violent drug offense.
The War on Drugs in the 1980s led to stiff sentences and over-crowded prisons. Decades later, in 2010 Congress took action after a strong push in the country to change outdated drug laws and sentencing. Mueller said he argued his client - under the new laws - would have already completed his sentence and be free.
His argument made it to the Oval Office and President Obama commuted the sentences of as well as more inmates than the past 11 presidents combined.
Maglich's client is now 81-years-old and has spent 26 years in prison. Maglich said Giuliano is excited to get caught up - from computers, to cell phones, to his grandkids - he has a whole new life to live on the outside.
Titus Mobley is being release from prison in December. Ignatizo Giuliano's release date is in February.