The Supreme Court today granted Governor Gavin Newsom’s request for a recommendation allowing him to commute the sentence of Kenneth Clark. Clark was sentenced in 2005 to 55 years to life for second degree murder with a sentence enhancement. The commutation would make Clark eligible for an earlier parole suitability hearing.

The state constitution requires that a governor get an affirmative court recommendation before granting clemency to anyone, like Clark, 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 47 of his other requests. That’s better than former Governor Jerry Brown, who had the court without explanation block 10 intended clemency grants.

Newsom submitted a recommendation request for Clark in February. The court has already granted four other requests that were submitted at the same time. Two other February requests remain pending; action on one of them has been delayed by a third-party motion to unseal the clemency file (see here and here).

[Update: Bob Egelko in the San Francisco Chronicle — “California Supreme Court clears the way for Newsom to grant clemency to NFL star’s father, convicted of murder in 2005.”]