Paula Lehman-Ewing reports in the Daily Journal about a motion filed yesterday by the First Amendment Coalition to unseal records that Governor Gavin Newsom submitted confidentially to the Supreme Court in support of his first request for approval of a clemency grant. The Coalition successfully filed a similar motion regarding one of then-Governor Jerry Brown’s clemency recommendation requests. Other motions have been pending for several months. (Here, here, here, here, and here.)
The court’s default position on clemency recommendation request files is secrecy, at least until a motion is filed. Section XIV (A) of the court’s Internal Operating Practices and Procedures (see here) provides (links added):
An application for a recommendation for executive clemency comes before this court pursuant to article V, section 8, subdivision (a) of the California Constitution and Penal Code section 4851. When such applications are received by the Clerk’s Office, they are given a file number, and the fact that they have been filed is a matter of public record. The papers and documents transmitted to the court by the Governor with the application often contain material that the Governor may have the right to withhold from the public. (See Gov. Code, § 6254, subds. (c), (f), & (l); Civ. Code, § 1798.40, subd. (c).) Accordingly, the court treats these files as confidential and does not make them available to the public.