State Supreme Court Orders Release of Records Related to Brown’s Pardon of Former State Sen. Convicted of Voter Fraud

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Roderick Wright is seen on the stand in his own defense during his trial in July 2014. (Credit: Anne Cusack / Los Angeles Times)

Roderick Wright is seen on the stand in his own defense during his trial in July 2014. (Credit: Anne Cusack / Los Angeles Times)

The California Supreme Court ordered the public release of court records related to Gov. Jerry Brown’s consideration of a pardon for a former state lawmaker.

The justices on Wednesday granted a motion by the First Amendment Coalition to unseal the records related to former state Sen. Roderick Wright. They rejected, however, a request to also release records from other clemency cases that are before the court.

A Los Angeles County jury in 2014 determined Wright lived outside the district he represented and convicted him of voter fraud and perjury. Some lawmakers at the time defended Wright, saying state law was ambiguous about the issue.

Brown consulted the state Supreme Court, which determined in November that pardoning Wright would not be an abuse of power. Brown pardoned Wright the next day.

The state Supreme Court gave Brown until Jan. 2 to decide whether any of the Wright records should remain confidential. It also said the First Amendment Coalition could request records on an individual basis in other clemency cases.

Glen Smith, a spokesman for the coalition, said the coalition will wait to see what it gets back from Brown’s office before deciding whether to pursue other clemency records. The state Supreme Court has received a spate of clemency requests from Brown as he nears the end of his term as governor.

Smith said people have a right to look at the information the governor is considering in clemency decisions. That material could include letters from victims or prosecutors, and “the public should be able to examine these documents and decide whether this was a proper thing to do,” he said.

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