vicks bph parole hearings
In re Shaputis II  (12/29/2011):  The California Supreme Court that negatively impact the Lifer Participation in Parole Hearings and Psychological Evaluation.  See Shaputis II Summary at my Blog.

In re Shaputis (2008) 44 Cal. 4th 1241
This is the companion case to Sandra Lawrence. Richard Shaputis appears to be the “take” portion of the “give and take” offered up by the California Supreme Court in August 2008 to demonstrate that its decision in Lawrence does not “open the flood gates” of parole for lifer inmates. In reversing the appellate court’s grant of parole to Mr. Shaputis, the Supreme Court concluded that because of a “lack of insight” into the commitment offense and a pattern of “sometimes violent behavior,” the inmate continues (currently) to be an “unreasonable risk” to public safety.

From a practical standpoint, the attorneys representing Lifers will need to closely scrutinize any and all Psychological evidence presented at the parole hearings. The BPH has their own contracted Forensic Psychologists to interview the inmates in a non-confidential setting to provide a report and recommendation as to the risk of violence in society if the inmate is release. The inmate’s psychological evaluation is now being given more weight and on many occasions is used to eviscerate the insight previously gained by the inmates (by prior positive psychological evaluations) in order to shoehorn the In re Shaputis decision to  BPH’s favor, for denying parole. 

California Case Law

California Case Law

1) In re Poole ____ Cal.App.5th ____
2) In re Palmer, 27 Cal. App. 5th 120

UPDATE: Gilman vs Brown (2/22/16)  (2016 U.S. App Lexis 3035)
SUMMARY: Changes to California's parole system through Prop 89 and Prop 9 did not result in ex post facto violations.Thus, Marsy's Law (aka Prop 9) is still valid law as is P89, which is the 1988 Governor's veto power to reverse the Board of Parole Hearings' decision.

Gilman vs Brown (2/28/14)  CIV. S-05-830 LKK/CKD
SUMMARY: Plaintiffs assert that Propositions 9 and 89 have retrospectively increased their punishments, in violation of the Ex Post Facto Clause of the U.S.

UPDATE: BUTLER was reversed and NO LONGER requires a BASE TERM calculation by the Parole Board (BPH).
In re ROY BUTLER  (12/16/13)  --   Case Nos. A139411 & A137273 Alameda County Case No. 91694B   (Mandated Base Term Calculation)

In summary, the BUTLER Court forces the Parole Board to calculate the base term of life prisoners at their Initial Hearings

UPDATE: 2/5/2016: Mr. Vicks hired Attorney Letarte for his 2015 Parole Hearing  where he was found suitable. Grant was subsequently reversed by Gov. to a 2/5/2016 Rescission Hearing and again Attorney Letarte  won his Hearing.

3/4/2013:  In re VICKS:   Reversed by the CA Supreme Court. In Summary, Marsy's Law will stay the Law for now. See Attorney Diane Letarte's  BLOG

In re Lawrence (2008) 44 Cal. 4th 1181:
Inmates have a protected liberty interest in parole. Due process guarantees a meaningful judicial review and that the judicial standard of review for a BPH denial of parole and/or the Governor’s reversal of Parole Grant remains the “some evidence” standard of review.

Some clarification received by this case is that a denial (or reversal by the Governor) of a parole grant must be based on “an assessment of an inmate’s current dangerousness.  The commitment offense ALONE can not be used to deny parole UNLESS, there is a nexus between the immutable factors and the inmate’s current dangerousness. The unsuitability factors used at a Lifer parole hearing can be reviewed under 15 CCR §2402.  

From a practical point, the attorney representing the inmates at their lifer parole hearing must make sure that they properly present all the positive (suitability) factors.

The California Supreme Court approved the decision of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in Biggs v. Terhune (2003) 336 F.3d 910. This is a federal landmark case in the Parole process.

Valdivia v. Davis (2002) * 206 F.Supp.2d 1068

This one is an older federal case where the court found that that delays in the parole revocation process violated due process protections. (Valdivia v. Davis (E.D. 2002).) As a result, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (aka CDCR)  and Board of Parole Hearings (aka BPH, old name BPT)  agreed to a (2007)  stipulated permanent injunction to improve the timeliness of parole revocation proceedings.

The Remedial Plan adopted under the injunction includes provisions for using alternative sanctions for minor parole violations, a probable cause hearing no more than 10 business days after a parolee is notified of charges, a revocation hearing no later than 35 days after a parole hold is placed, and appointment of attorneys to represent all parolees facing revocation proceedings.

Armstrong v. Davis (2001)* 275 F.3d 849

A federal District Court judge issued an injunction, ordering the Board of Parole Hearings (BPH) to remedy its shocking and appalling failure to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) during parole hearings.

The order came after a trial during which one prisoner told of having to leave his wheelchair behind to crawl upstairs to a hearing, a deaf prisoner told the judge he was shackled during his hearing and could not communicate with the sign language interpreter, and a blind inmate said he was offered no help with complicated written materials. The injunction was upheld by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. 

*(some contribution from

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