The Supreme Court today gave Governor Gavin Newsom permission to pardon Julie Ruehle for 1999 convictions of possession of a controlled substance and taking a vehicle without consent. The state constitution requires a governor to get an affirmative court recommendation before granting clemency to anyone who, like Ruehle, 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.
It’s been just 21 days since Newsom submitted his recommendation request regarding Ruehle. That’s a fast turnaround. In fact, it ties two other rulings for fastest recommendations during the Newsom administration. (See here and here.) At the other end of the spectrum are two rulings that were made 338 days after requests were submitted. (See here.) The median time until decision is 83 days.