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In Re Curtis Lee Sledge On Habeas Corpus.

December 13, 2010

IN RE CURTIS LEE SLEDGE ON HABEAS CORPUS.


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Nares, Acting P. J.

NOT TO BE PUBLISHED IN OFFICIAL REPORTS

California Rules of Court, rule 8.1115(a), prohibits courts and parties from citing or relying on opinions not certified for publication or ordered published, except as specified by rule 8.1115(b). This opinion has not been certified for publication or ordered published for purposes of rule 8.1115.

Petition for writ of habeas corpus. Relief granted.

Petitioner Curtis Lee Sledge was sentenced in 1981 to 26 years to life, plus a determinate six-year term, after a jury found him guilty of first degree murder and two counts of robbery. Sledge, now nearly 60 years old, has remained in prison for the past 29 years.

Sledge first became eligible for parole in 2000, but the Board of Parole Hearings (BPH) did not find him suitable for parole until his June 2009 suitability hearing. At that time, a panel of the BPH concluded Sledge was suitable for parole because he did not pose an unreasonable risk of danger to society if released. That decision was based, in part, on Sledge's "positive parole plans . . . consist[ing] of [Sledge] being accepted to the Salvation Army Rehabilitation Center" in Sacramento, California. However, the BPH's Decision Review Unit (DRU) referred the matter to the full BPH with the recommendation that the panel's decision be disapproved, and a rehearing be set, because the DRU was unable to confirm the viability of Sledge's planned residence in the Salvation Army Rehabilitation Center or two other identified residences. The full BPH ultimately disapproved the panel's decision to grant parole, and ordered a rehearing "on the next available calendar with the same hearing panel if feasible." At the rehearing, a new panel found Sledge unsuitable for parole.

Sledge filed a petition for writ of habeas corpus in the trial court; that petition was denied. Sledge now petitions this court for a writ of habeas corpus challenging the BPH's decision to vacate the first panel's grant of parole.

I

FACTS

A. The Commitment Offenses

On August 26, 1980, while on probation for a prior offense, Sledge, in the course of a robbery, threatened a victim with a knife. Sledge was arrested the following day but was apparently released. Approximately two weeks later, Sledge again used a knife to rob a 68-year-old man. On this occasion, however, Sledge stabbed and killed the victim during the robbery.

B. Sledge's Prior Criminal History

Sledge's arrest and conviction record is lengthy, and included property crimes, drug crimes, and acts involving violence.

C. Sledge's Disciplinary Record in Prison

Sledge has been disciplined numerous times while in prison, but his last "CDC 115"*fn1 was in 1999. It does not appear any of the rule violations involved violence, and he was discipline free for 10 years prior to his 2009 parole hearing.

D. Sledge's Psychological Evaluation

A psychologist evaluated Sledge and his report was "generally favorable."

E. Sledge's Rehabilitative Efforts

The evidence showed, and the BPH did not question, that Sledge's conduct in prison has shown substantial progress. He has not been disciplined in any fashion for the past 10 years. He has furthered his educational and vocational ...


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