Governor Gavin Newsom yesterday asked the Supreme Court to allow him to pardon Walter Earlonne Woods. A court recommendation is constitutionally required before a governor can grant clemency to anyone who has been “twice convicted of a felony.”

Woods was convicted of residential burglary and kidnapping in 1989. In 1999, he was convicted of attempted second degree robbery and assault with a firearm. In 2018, the court granted then-Governor Jerry Brown’s request to commute Woods’s 31-years-to-life sentence. (See here.) Woods was released from prison after the commutation.

Besides being a convicted felon, Woods is the co-host, co-producer, and co-creator of “Ear Hustle,” a podcast about prison life that was one of three finalists for the 2020 Pulitzer Prize in audio reporting.

Also, three years ago, Woods endorsed Justice Goodwin Liu’s bid to be named California Attorney General by Governor Newsom. (The nomination later went to Rob Bonta.) At the time, Woods said, “I met Justice Liu in 2017 in the media center at San Quentin where I was incarcerated.”

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 63 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.

The Governor’s request was filed under seal. It 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.)

It’s been over nine months since Newsom last requested a clemency recommendation from the court.