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Criminal,
California Supreme Court

Feb. 29, 2024

Blanket commutations and twice-convicted felons

The California Supreme Court should approve a mass commutation of death sentences, based on the court’s criteria and the Governor’s legitimate use of the clemency power to address systemic flaws.

Jason R. Marks

Counsel, Moskovitz Appellate Team

Jason R. Marks is of counsel with Moskovitz Appellate Team, a group of former appellate judges and appellate research attorneys who handle and consult on appeals and writs. See MoskovitzAppellateTeam.com. Jason is a retired research attorney at the California Supreme Court, but has not drawn on any internal court discussion for this column.

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In March of 2019, shortly after taking office, Gov. Gavin Newsom formally declared, “I will not oversee execution of any person while Governor.” He broadly criticized California’s death penalty system, calling it unjust, ineffective in assuring public safety, and discriminatory, and cited a national study estimating one in 25 people sentenced to death may be innocent. (Executive Order N-09-19 (Mar. 13, 2019).)

Since issuing that reprieve...

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