The Supreme Court today ruled that the record Governor Gavin Newsom submitted with his request for the court’s permission to commute the life without parole sentence of Howard Ford will remain partially inaccessible to the public. A redacted version of the record is open for inspection.
The court’s recommendation is a constitutional prerequisite to a governor granting clemency to anyone, like Ford, who has been “twice convicted of a felony.”
The court made a similar sealing ruling last September regarding six other clemency records. Even a partial opening of a clemency record is unlikely unless a third party files a motion to unseal.
This is the second time a governor has asked the court to sign off on a sentence commutation for Ford. The first recommendation request was one of 10 made by then-Governor Jerry Brown that the court turned down. (See here and here.) The court has said it reviews those requests under a deferential standard. (See here and here.)
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