Governor Gavin Newsom yesterday asked the Supreme Court to allow him to commute five long prison sentences, including four of life without the possibility of parole. 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 50 of his other requests. 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.
For each of yesterday’s requests, Newsom “is contemplating a commutation of sentence that would make [the prisoner] eligible for a parole suitability hearing” or for an “earlier” hearing.
The latest recommendation requests are for:
Carlos Cano: sentenced in 1998 to life without parole plus 17 years to life for first degree murder and attempted murder with sentence enhancements.
Gregory Sanders: sentenced in 1981 to life without parole for first degree murder.
Marin Loftis: sentenced in 1992 to life without parole plus five years for first degree murder with a sentence enhancement.
Raul Chavez: sentenced in 2007 to 35 years and eight months for burglary and attempted robbery with sentence enhancements.
Tyson Atlas: sentenced in 2008 to juvenile life without parole plus 25 years for first degree murder with sentence enhancements.
As is usual, other than a relatively brief cover letter, Newsom submitted the documents supporting his requests under seal. It will likely take a motion before the court might make at least some of the documents open to public view. (See here, here, and here.)
3 Comments on “Governor seeks Supreme Court permission to commute five sentences, including four LWOPs”
Thank you for 2nd chances governor newsom. We all make mistakes and we learn to be better people. A second chance is all we need to prove it to everyone.