Friday, June 11, 2010

5/24/10 Pearson v. Muntz (9th Cir): State's claims were based on a misreading of Hayward v. Marshall (2010)

Case Holding:

A state-created right, such as California's requirement that parole be granted unless there some evidence of future dangerousness, may give rise to a protected liberty interest that can be enforced as a matter of federal law and via a federal habeas petition. The district court granted the California prisoner's habeas petition because the Governor's decision reversing a grant of parole was not supported by some evidence. The State filed a stay alleging the district court applied the wrong law, and the Ninth Circuit granted the stay until it decided Hayward v. Marshall (2010) __ F.3d __ (06-55392).

In Hayward, the court held that federal habeas claims by California prisoners based on parole denials must decide whether the "some evidence" requirement used by California courts was unreasonably applied. After the Hayward opinion, the Ninth Circuit lifted the stay. The State filed a motion for reconsideration. But because all of the State's claims were based on a misreading of Hayward, the motion for reconsideration was denied.

3/25/10 In re Loresch - Denial of parole to a life prisoner may not be based on the aggravated nature of the crime, by itself!

Case Holding:

Denial of parole to a life prisoner may not be based on the aggravated nature of the crime, by itself, as "some evidence" of current dangerousness. The Governor reversed a decision by the Board of Parole Hearings to grant Loresch parole. The Governor's order rested solely on the aggravated nature of the murder and speculation that the inmate could relapse and render him currently dangerous.

The appellate court rejected the Governor's argument that the remedy, should the petition for writ of habeas corpus be granted, would be to remand for the Governor's further consideration. The opinion implores the Governor to reconsider his views and moderate them so as to restore confidence in the board's determination and stop second guessing parole-suitability determinations made by the experts.

5/12/2010 In re Calderon "INSIGHT" not a factor for SUITABILITY

Court of Appeal First District, Division 2

Case Holding:

Lack of insight is not a factor indicative of unsuitability for parole. The Governor reversed the parole board's decision to grant parole to petitioner, who had committed a murder during the course of a robbery. The Court of Appeal reversed. Besides the gravity of the crime, the Governor found petitioner unsuitable based on continued criminal behavior in prison and his "lack of full insight" into the effects of his prior substance abuse.

The court found the Governor's reasons did not withstand scrutiny under the In re Lawrence (2008) 44 Cal.4th 1181 standards. This crime was no more serious than other second-degree murders. Relevant post-conviction factors do not show current dangerousness since petitioner's brief association with a prison gang ended many years ago. And his alleged "lack of insight" on substance-abuse effects has no basis in the record.

After In re Shaputis (2008) 44 Cal.4th 1241, where the phrase "lack of insight" was mentioned in upholding the Governor's decision on parole ineligibility, it has become the Governor's new mantra. But, it is not even among the factors indicative of unsuitability in the regulations. Lack of insight is probative of unsuitability only to the extent it is supported by the record and rationally indicative of current dangerousness.