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Supreme Court Approves One Pardon, Seven Sentence Commutations


06/09/2021--The Supreme Court today gave Governor Gavin Newsom permission to pardon one person and commute the long sentences of seven others, including one sentence of life without the possibility of parole. One old request for a positive clemency recommendation remains pending. The governor is constitutionally required to get the court’s positive recommendation before he can grant clemency to anyone who has been “twice convicted of a felony.” The court has said it reviews clemency recommendation requests under a deferential standard of review. The court acted favorably for the following twice-convicted felons: Samath Duong, whom the Governor can now pardon for unspecified 1993 and 2002 felonies. The Governor also did not publicly disclose the length of the sentences Duong served or is serving. George Hughes, who was sentenced in 1982 to life without parole plus seven years and eight months for first degree murder, three counts of robbery, and other charges. Hughes has two prior felony convictions for burglary. The Governor can commute the sentence to make Hughes eligible for a parole suitability hearing. Carlos Guerrero, who was sentenced in 2008 to 27 years to life for attempted murder and other charges. Guerrero has a prior felony conviction for possession of a controlled substance for sale. The Governor can commute the sentence to make Guerrero eligible for an earlier parole suitability hearing. Gregory Fletcher, who was sentenced in 2003 to 68 years to life for robbery as a third strike and attempted robbery as a third strike. Fletcher has six prior felony convictions for attempted grand theft, armed robbery, selling a controlled substance, robbery, and attempted robbery. The Governor can commute the sentence to make Fletcher eligible for an earlier parole suitability hearing. Rodney Henderson, who was sentenced in 1997 to 40 years to life for robbery as a third strike with sentence enhancements. Henderson has prior felony convictions for robbery, burglary, and attempted robbery. The Governor can commute the sentence to make Henderson eligible for release on parole. Robert Escareño, who was sentenced in 2002 to 175 years to life for robbery and carjacking as a third strike with sentence enhancements. Escareño has prior felony convictions for robbery and assault with a firearm on a person. The Governor can commute the sentence to make Escareño eligible for an earlier parole suitability hearing. Gary Elerick, who was sentenced in 2006 to 45 years to life for robbery as a third strike with sentence enhancements. Elerick has prior felony convictions for burglary, robbery, and prison escape without force. The Governor can commute the sentence to make Elerick eligible for release on parole. Douglas Carson, who was sentenced in 2007 to 35 years to life sentence for robbery as a third strike, possession of a controlled substance, and other charges. Carson has prior felony convictions for passing checks with insufficient funds, forgery, and robbery. The Governor can commute the sentence to make Carson eligible for release on parole. Newsom is now 33 for 33 in having the court approve his pardons and sentence commutations, which is considerably better than former Governor Jerry Brown, who had the court, without explanation, block 10 intended clemency grants. There are now just three clemency recommendation requests pending before the court. As mentioned, the oldest one — for Anthony Banks — was submitted more than a year ago. That was three months before Newsom sent the Guerrero, Hughes, and Fletcher requests, and 10 months before he sent the Duong, Henderson, Escareño, Elerick, and Carson requests, all of which were ruled on today. The court has now ruled on a total of 18 requests that were submitted at the same time as, or later than, the Banks request.

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