Over 13 months ago, Governor Gavin Newsom submitted to the Supreme Court a request that it approve the commutation of Anthony Banks’s 1996, 35-years-to-life sentence for a third strike robbery conviction. With no ruling to date, Newsom has now withdrawn the request as moot.
A Governor is constitutionally required to get the court’s positive recommendation before they can grant clemency to anyone who, like Banks, has been “twice convicted of a felony.” The court has said it reviews requests for those recommendations under a deferential standard of review.
Nonetheless, Banks’s case languished. The court has already ruled on a total of 20 clemency recommendation requests that were filed at the same time or after the one for Banks. Last month, the court deferred action on the Banks request and returned the file to Newsom with directions to resubmit it with a justification for keeping all or part of the file sealed.
Yesterday, the Governor moved the court to vacate the resubmission order because, the motion says, he “has recently withdrawn his request for a clemency recommendation.” While the court considers the motion, it today extended the time to resubmit the file.
Apparently, the court waited long enough that it won’t have to rule on the request at all. Newsom’s original request said the proposed sentence commutation “would make Mr. Banks eligible for an earlier parole suitability hearing.” Yesterday’s motion reports that, after the request was submitted, “Mr. Banks was made eligible for and participated in a parole suitability hearing. At the hearing, Mr. Banks was denied parole.” The request withdrawal is made “[i]n light of these events.”
[July 21 update: the Supreme Court today vacated its order to resubmit Banks’s file, doing so “in light of the Governor’s withdrawal of his request for a recommendation from this court on the clemency application of Mr. Banks.” It also denied as moot the First Amendment Coalition’s motion, filed 11 months ago, to unseal the Banks record (see here).]