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Parole board accused of violating Butler settlement with lifers

In December 2013, the First District Court of Appeal approved a settlement in the case In re Butler, effective April 2014, requiring the Board of Parole Hearings to notify life-term prisoners of their “base term” — the sentence they could expect to serve because of the circumstances of their crime — at their first parole hearing. […]

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Appeals Court Gives New Hope to California’s “Three Strikers” Denied Relief under Prop. 36

On June 24th, in an UnCommon Law case, California’s Sixth District Court of Appeal held that the new definition of “dangerousness” established by Proposition 47 must also apply to people seeking to modify their Three Strikes life sentences under Proposition 36 (the Three Strikes Reform Act of 2012).  This is a huge victory: previously, without a […]

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Court Approves Class Action Settlement over Parole Hearings!

A Federal Judge has approved a settlement giving California prisoners greater protections when being considered for parole.  On May 27, 2016, District Court Judge Kimberly J. Mueller, of the U.S. District Court in Sacramento gave final approval to a settlement agreement between a class of 10,000 California prisoners and the California parole board.  The lawsuit […]

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Parole boards subvert Supreme Court holding that “juvenile lifers” deserve second chances

As reported by Beth Schwartzapfel for The Marshall Project: The [Supreme Court justices] have made it clear in a series of recent rulings that “juvenile lifers,” those serving life sentences imposed when they were teenagers, must have “some meaningful opportunity to obtain” their release. But the high court has left it up to states — […]

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California Prisoners Gain Protection from Bias in their Parole Hearings!

On September 10, 2015, a class of 10,000 California prisoners reached a tentative agreement with the California Board of Parole Hearings aimed at protecting prisoners from the improper use of psychological reports when the parole board considers whether to release them from prison.  Johnson v. Shaffer (Eastern District of California, No. 2:12 -cv-1059 KJM) was filed in […]

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Parole board to set minimums for lifers

State corrections officials agreed Monday to a major change in California’s parole system that could lead to earlier releases for parole-eligible lifers. The settlement stems from a legal action filed by a prisoner at Soledad, who was sentenced to 15 years to life for a 1987 murder and claimed that his parole application was routinely and […]

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Legal Developments: 2008 – present

Lawrence and Shaputis are significant — not only because of what they said about how the parole consideration process should work, but also because they came from the California Supreme Court. All California courts of appeal and all county superior courts (where these petitions start) must follow Lawrence and Shaputis. Below are examples of how lower courts (and even the […]

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Legal Developments: 2000 – 2008

On April 27, 2000, the Second District Court of Appeal (in Los Angeles) decided In re Rosenkrantz (2000) 80 Cal. App. 4th 409. That case marked the first instance in a long time that a court struck down the Board’s decision and ordered relief for a lifer. The Court ordered the Board to give Mr. Rosenkrantz a new […]

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Introduction: The Legal Framework

The California Penal Code (section 3041) says that lifers are supposed to be granted parole the first time they become eligible. However, the Board of Parole Hearings and the Governor do not follow that law. Thus, lifers and their supporters need to understand how courts have been reviewing the Board’s and Governor’s conduct, and the limitations courts […]

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