IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA
March 3, 2011
KENNETH SCOTT RODGERS, PETITIONER,
D. K. SISTO, WARDEN, CALIFORNIA STATE PRISON, SOLANO, RESPONDENT.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: James K. Singleton, Jr. United States District Judge
[Re: Motion at Docket No. 17]
ORDER At Docket No. 16 this Court entered final judgment granting the Petition of Kenneth Scott Rodgers for Relief Under 28 U.S.C. § 2254, and ordered the Board of Parole Hearings to hold a new parole-suitability hearing within 120 days. At Docket No. 17 Respondent timely filed a Motion to Alter Judgment under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 59(e). Rodgers has not opposed the motion.
This Court may grant relief under Rule 59(e) under limited circumstances: an intervening change of controlling authority; new evidence has surfaced; or the previous disposition was clearly erroneous and, if uncorrected, would work a manifest injustice.*fn1
Shortly after judgment was entered in this case, the Supreme Court handed down its decision in Swarthout v. Cooke.*fn2 In Cooke, the Supreme Court effectively overruled the Ninth Circuit authorities relied upon by this Court in rendering its decision. In his motion, Respondent argues that Cooke constitutes an intervening change in controlling authority that forecloses Rodgers's claims. This Court agrees.
It is well-established by Supreme Court precedent that there is no
constitutional or inherent right of a convicted person to be
conditionally released on parole before expiration of a
sentence.*fn3 That a California prisoner has a liberty
interest in parole protected by the procedural safeguards of the Due
Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment is settled.*fn4
Because the only federal right at issue in this case is
procedural, the relevant inquiry is whether Rodgers received due
process.*fn5 The Constitution only requires that a
prisoner be allowed an opportunity to be heard and to be provided with
a statement of the reasons why a parole is denied, nothing
Rodgers contends that the decision of the Board was unsupported by some evidence as required by California law.*fn7 "[I]t is of no federal concern . . . whether California's 'some evidence' rule of judicial review (a procedure beyond what the Constitution demands) was correctly applied."*fn8
California prisoners are allowed to speak at their parole hearings and to contest the evidence against them, are afforded access to their records in advance, and are notified of the reasons why parole is denied. That is all that due process requires.*fn9 "'Federal courts hold no supervisory authority over state judicial proceedings and may intervene only to correct wrongs of constitutional dimension.'"*fn10 Rodgers has failed to establish a wrong of constitutional magnitude. Accordingly, Rodgers's argument that he is entitled to habeas relief has been foreclosed by Cooke.
IT IS THEREFORE ORDERED THAT the Motion to Alter Judgment at Docket No. 17 is GRANTED.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED THAT the Judgment entered at Docket No. 16 is VACATED.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED THAT the Petition under 28 U.S.C. § 2254 for Writ of Habeas Corpus is DENIED.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED THAT the Court declines to issue a Certificate of Appealability.*fn11 Any further request for a Certificate of Appealability must be addressed to the Court of Appeals.*fn12
The Clerk of the Court is directed to enter judgment accordingly.