The Supreme Court today gave Governor Gavin Newsom permission to commute Yvette Cooper‘s 2009, 22-year and four-month sentence for three counts of burglary.  The commutation would make Cooper eligible for release on parole.

The Governor is constitutionally required to get the court’s positive recommendation before he can grant clemency to anyone who, like Cooper, has been “twice convicted of a felony.”  The court has said it reviews requests for those recommendations under a deferential standard of review.

The court has now approved all 35 of Newsom’s pardon and sentence commutation requests.  That’s considerably better than former Governor Jerry Brown, who had the court, without explanation, block 10 intended clemency grants.

Only one clemency recommendation request remains pending, the one concerning the proposed commutation of Anthony Banks‘s 1996, 35-years-to-life sentence for a third strike robbery conviction.  The Governor submitted that request almost 13 months ago and the court just last week returned the Banks file to Newsom with directions to resubmit it with a justification for keeping all or part of it sealed.

It’s unclear why there’s been such a long delay for Banks.  The Cooper request was docketed only three months ago and a total of 20 requests that have already been ruled on were submitted at the same time or after the one for Banks.


The Supreme Court’s clemency backlog hasn’t gotten any better

Governor must again re-do requests to keep clemency records secret

Supreme Court finalizes revised policy on clemency record confidentiality

Justice Liu invites resubmission of clemency requests that the Supreme Court rejected last year

Motions fail to pry loose Supreme Court’s clemency denial reasons

LA Times criticizes Supreme Court for not explaining clemency blocks.  Can the court still remedy that?