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Supreme Court Signs Off On Two More Commutations


05/12/2021The Supreme Court today gave Governor Gavin Newsom permission to commute two prisoners’ sentences. The governor is constitutionally required to get the court’s positive recommendation before he can grant clemency to anyone who, like the two, has been “twice convicted of a felony.” The court has said it reviews clemency recommendation requests under a deferential standard of review. Commutations were approved for: Mary Reese, who was sentenced in 2010 to 35-years-to-life for burglary as a third strike and for other charges. Jose Barajas, who was sentenced in 1998 to 42-years-and-four-months-to-life for two counts of attempted murder, conspiracy to commit murder, and grand theft. The commutations will make Reese and Barajas eligible for earlier parole suitability hearings. Newsom is now 23 for 23 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 13 clemency recommendation requests pending before the court. As mentioned, the oldest one — for Anthony Banks — was submitted in May 2020. That was three months before Newsom sent the Reese and Barajas requests that were ruled on today. The court has ruled on a total of eight requests that were submitted at the same time as, or later than, the Banks request. The most recent seven requests were submitted just in March.

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