Friday, October 28, 2011

Ochoa v. Sup. Court of Santa Clara Court- CONFIDENTIAL FILE access

Case Name: Ochoa v. Sup. Court of Santa Clara Co. , District: 6 DCA ,
Case #: H036970
Opinion Date: 10/13/2011 , DAR #: 15203

QUICK GLANCE: Confidential File portion in the Inmates Central File MAY be access via a Court "in camera" hearing with the Warden must be present. This is to determine how much of the confidential information CAN be disclosed without disclosing the informant's identity.

Case Holding:

In a parole proceeding, the warden may decline to disclose the identity of a prison informant against the inmate if there is a valid state interest in keeping the informant's identity confidential.

Glasgow was convicted of first degree murder in 1980 and sentenced to state prison for thirty years to life. In 2010, the Board of Parole Hearings (Board) found him suitable for parole but the Governor reversed the decision, based, in part, on confidential information that Glasgow sold his prescribed pain medication to other inmates.

Glasgow challenged the decision in a writ action and the superior court ordered disclosure of the confidential information or reconsideration of parole without the information. The appellate court issued a peremptory writ vacating the order.

An inmate seeking parole does not have the same minimum due process rights as the parolee in a Morrissey hearing (Morrissey v. Brewer (1972) 408 U.S. 471.) Instead, the rights of an inmate seeking parole are considered on a case by case basis, with the state's interests weighed against those of the inmates. For security and safety, the warden may refuse to disclose confidential information (Evid. Code, sec. 1040). If a claim of privilege is made, the court may require an in camera hearing to determine if the information is privileged and if it is, it may not be disclosed.

Here, the superior court, in an in camera hearing, determined that the confidential documents were relevant and reliable, allowing the warden to exert non disclosure under section 1040.

However, the appellate court concluded that an in camera hearing with the warden must now be held to determine how much of the confidential information could be disclosed without disclosing the informant's identity, such that Glasgow's rights to a fair parole determination can be balanced with the state’s right of nondisclosure.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Inmates on a 9-day-old hunger strike at CDCR

(Reuters) - Thousands of inmates in up to eight California prisons have taken part in a 9-day-old hunger strike, demanding an end to what they call inhumane conditions, prison officials and an inmate advocacy group said on Tuesday.

The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation was counting 1,186 inmates in four prisons as participating in the hunger strike as of Tuesday, down from more than 4,200 inmates at eight prisons on September 29.

But a prisoner rights group put the number of strike participants higher, saying as many as 12,000 inmates at eight California state prisons have taken part in refusing to eat.

The protest comes as California has begun carrying out a state-mandated plan to ease prison overcrowding by shifting responsibility for thousands of inmates and ex-convicts to county authorities.

The current hunger strike grew out of a protest started in July by prisoners housed in Northern California's Pelican Bay State Prison.

Inmates there were pressing a list of five demands -- an end to group punishments; an end to a policy that requires an inmate to identify fellow gang members in exchange for getting out of solitary confinement; an end to long-term solitary confinement; adequate and nutritious food; and greater privileges for prisoners confined to isolation indefinitely.

The original Pelican Bay strike ended in late July after prison officials promised some concessions. But the protest resumed on September 26 after inmates complained their concerns were not immediately addressed. The strike has since spread to prisons throughout the state.

The prison strike run from Northern CA at Pelican Bay all the way down to Southern CA at Ironwood State Prison (ISP).

Monday 10/4/2011: State corrections officials said the number of striking inmates is far lower than reported by advocates. As of Monday, officials said there are 1,245 inmates at 4 prisons who have missed nine or more consecutive meals since Sept. 26. The number of inmates who had missed nine or more consecutive meals peaked Sept. 29 with 4,252 inmates at 8 state prisons.