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Kenneth Tyrone Williams v. J. Tim Ochoa

IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA


December 17, 2010

KENNETH TYRONE WILLIAMS, PETITIONER,
v.
J. TIM OCHOA,*FN1 WARDEN (A), CHUCKAWALLA VALLEY STATE PRISON, RESPONDENT.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: James K. Singleton, Jr. United States District Judge

ORDER

Kenneth Tyrone Williams, a state prisoner appearing pro se, filed a Petition for Habeas Corpus Relief Under 28 U.S.C. § 2254. Williams is currently in the custody of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, incarcerated at the Chuckawalla Valley State Prison. In his Petition, Williams challenges the July 29, 2005, decision of the California Board of Parole Hearings ("Board") denying him parole for a period of two years. Respondent has answered, and Williams has replied.

After briefing was completed in this Court, the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit rendered its decision in Hayward v.Marshall.*fn2 In Hayward, the Ninth Circuit held that, to the extent that a California prisoner has a liberty interest protected by the Due Process Clause, that interest was created by California state law.*fn3 Hayward instructed this Court that it "need only decide whether the California judicial decision approving the [Board's] decision rejecting parole was an 'unreasonable application' of the California 'some evidence' requirement, or 'was based on an unreasonable determination of the facts in light of the evidence.'"*fn4 Consequently, under the holding in Hayward, this Court may grant habeas relief if it concludes that the state court's decision was an unreasonable application of California's "some evidence" standard.*fn5 The California "some evidence" standard is embodied in the decisions of the California Supreme Court in In re Lawrence*fn6 and its companion case, In re Shaputis,*fn7 which explained and clarified the earlier decisions in In re Rosenkrantz*fn8 and In re Dannenberg.*fn9

Because California state law creates a prisoner's liberty interest in parole, it also defines the scope and extent of that liberty interest, including the appropriate remedy if that liberty interest is violated.*fn10 In In re Prather, the California Supreme Court held that, in the event that the Board violated a prisoner's protected liberty interest in parole, the appropriate remedy is to remand to the Board for a new parole-suitability hearing consistent with the "some evidence" requirements of California law.*fn11 Thus, should this Court determine that in this case the Board violated Williams's due process protected liberty interest, as created, defined, and limited by California law, the sole remedy it may grant is a remand to the Board for a new parole-suitability hearing consistent with the requirements of due process.*fn12

It appears from the record in this case it is more likely than not, that Williams has had a new parole-suitability hearing since July 2005. In the event that Williams has received a new parole-suitability hearing, Williams may have already received the only effective relief this Court may grant. Accordingly, IT IS THEREFORE ORDERED THAT, within 28 days of the service of this Order:

1. Respondent must advise this Court of (a) the date of Williams's last parole-suitability hearing before the Board of Parole Hearings, (b) the decision made by the Board at that hearing, and (c) the current status of any proceedings in the California state courts relating to the Board's decision; and

2. If a hearing has been held, within said 28 days, both Williams and Respondent must file briefs, not to exceed 10 pages in length, addressing the issue of whether Williams's Petition should be dismissed as moot.

IT IS FURTHER ORDERED THAT, within 21 days of the date the brief is filed as provided in the preceding paragraph, the other party may file a reply, not to exceed five pages in length.


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