California Gov. Jerry Brown gave clemency to 79 people on Monday, offering full pardons to more people in a single day than some of the state's governors have in their entire tenure, reports the Los Angeles Times. For the most part, those pardoned were small-time drug offenders. Many who served little to no time in prison had secured pardon recommendations years ago from their local courts. One Sacramento man, who served a year in jail on a 1968 grand theft charge, had been eligible for pardon since 1973. The most serious case involved a Los Angeles woman, 80-year-old Bertha Fairley, who received clemency for a 1971 involuntary manslaughter conviction.
Brown's acts of clemency grace only a small set of those who become eligible every year. The majority of those pardoned had persuaded local Superior Courts to award them a certificate of rehabilitation. The service is free through the county public defender's office. From January through November, the Los Angeles County Superior Court sent the governor's office the names of 60 people recommended for pardons. John Garbin, the paralegal who handles pardon applications for the county public defender's office, said he's seen only six granted in his career.