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Paul Dominguez v. D.K. Sisto

United States District Court Eastern District of California


July 23, 2012

PAUL DOMINGUEZ,
PETITIONER,
v.
D.K. SISTO, WARDEN, RESPONDENT.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Terry J. Hatter, Jr.Senior United States District Judge

Order

Petitioner was convicted of second-degree murder in 1989. In 2006, the Board of Parole Hearings ("Board") found petitioner unsuitable for parole. Petitioner filed a writ of habeas corpus in California state court. His petition was denied. Petitioner then filed a habeas petition in this Court.

Petitioner alleges that the Board's decision to deny parole violated his federal due process rights because the decision was not based on evidence that the petitioner posed an unreasonable risk of danger to society. He, also, alleges that his commitment offense is no longer a reliable indicator that he poses an unreasonable risk of danger to society.

Whatever liberty interest exists in the right to parole is a state interest created by California law. Swarthout v. Cooke, __U.S.__, 131 S. Ct. 859, 862, 178 L. Ed. 2d 732, 736 (2011). When a state creates a liberty interest, the due process clause requires the interest to be carried out through fair and constitutional procedures. Swarthout, __U.S. at __, 131 S. Ct. at 862, 178 L. Ed. 2d at 736. In the context of parole, the Supreme Court has held that the only procedures constitutionally required are that prisoners be allowed an opportunity to be heard at their parole hearing and, if parole is denied, given a statement of the reasons why it was denied. Swarthout, __U.S. at __, 131 S. Ct. at 862, 178 L. Ed. 2d at 736. The petitioner was offered an opportunity to speak on his behalf during his parol hearing and was given a statement by the Board explaining why his parole was denied. Therefore, the Board's procedures met the requirements of clearly established federal law, as articulated by the Supreme Court, and did not violate petitioner's federal due process rights.

It is Ordered that the petition for writ of habeas corpus be, and hereby is, Denied.

20120723

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