Governor Gavin Newsom yesterday asked the Supreme Court to allow him to commute the life without parole sentence of Allan Krenitzky.  A court recommendation is constitutionally required before a governor can grant clemency to anyone who has been “twice convicted of a felony.”

Krenitzky’s LWOP sentence was imposed following a 1989 conviction of first degree murder. He had previously been convicted of burglary and of robbery and assault. Newsom’s recommendation request says he’s “contemplating” that the proposed commutation “would make Mr. Krenitzky eligible for a parole suitability hearing,” not that the commutation would require Krenitzky’s release. (Related:  “Newsom grants clemency, but freedom isn’t certain”.)

The court has said it reviews clemency recommendation requests under a deferential standard. (See here and here.) And Newsom has a nearly perfect record — he withdrew one request before a ruling, but the court has approved all 63 of his other requests that have been ruled on. That’s better than former Governor Jerry Brown, who had the court without explanation block 10 intended clemency grants. The denial of a request implies that a clemency grant would be an abuse of power.

A dozen of Newsom’s 63 approved requests have been for commutations of LWOP sentences. He has not sought clemency for any death row inmates.

The Governor’s request was lodged under seal. Today, the San Bernardino District Attorney’s Office filed a motion to unseal the record. Without the motion, the record would have remained shielded from the public. With the motion, the court will likely require Newsom to justify keeping all or part of the record under wraps and will then probably make a redacted record available for viewing. (See here and here.)

Newsom made another clemency recommendation request just last week. Before that, it had been over nine months since Newsom’s last request.