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Name: In re Coleman
Case #: A142734
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 1 DCA
Division: 5
Opinion Date: 05/14/2015

When an inmate serving a life term commits a custodial offense, the consecutive sentence for that offense begins on the date he is found suitable for parole, not on the date he completes his base term. In 1990, Coleman pled guilty to second degree murder (Pen. Code, § 187) and was sentenced to 15 years to life. While incarcerated, he was convicted of conspiring to bring a controlled substance into prison (Pen. Code, §§ 182, subd. (a)(1), 4573) and was sentenced to a six-year determinate term to be served consecutively to his indeterminate term. In 2012, the Parole Board found Coleman suitable for parole and calculated the base term of confinement for his second degree murder conviction to be 18 years. At that point, Coleman had been incarcerated for 22 years. CDCR, however, did not credit the four extra years Coleman had served toward his six-year consecutive term. Instead, CDCR calculated Coleman’s release date by running the six-year consecutive term from the date the parole grant became effective. Coleman filed a petition for writ of habeas corpus, which the superior court granted. The Warden appealed. Held: Reversed. Penal Code section 1170.1, subdivision (c) provides that consecutive terms for custodial offenses “shall commence from the time the person would otherwise have been released from prison.” The base term calculated by the Parole Board is not a release date. (See In re Bush (2008) 161 Cal.App.4th 133, 141-142.) The Parole Board may find that an inmate is not suitable for parole even though the inmate has served the base term. The language of section 1170.1, subdivision (c) refers to the effective date of an inmate’s parole suitability, not the base term. Thus, the superior court erred by using the expiration of the base term as the date Coleman would otherwise have been released from prison.