Governor Gavin Newsom yesterday asked for Supreme Court approval to grant two pardons.
The state constitution requires a governor to get an affirmative court recommendation before granting clemency to anyone who has been “twice convicted of a felony.”
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 61 of his other requests made before today. That’s better than former Governor 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.
The latest recommendation requests are for:
Steven Cox: seeking a pardon for a 1969 conviction of failing to appear on a felony charge and a 1999 conviction of possession of a controlled substance for sale.
Brian Tinney: seeking a pardon for a 1993 conviction of grand theft and a 1996 conviction of being a felon in possession of a firearm.
The Governor’s requests were filed under seal. They will remain shielded from the public unless someone moves to unseal the records. If a motion is filed, the court will likely require Newsom to justify keeping all or part of the records under wraps and will then probably make redacted records available for viewing. (See here and here.)