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Name: In re Dannenberg
Case #: A095299
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 1 DCA
Division: 3
Opinion Date: 09/19/2002
Subsequent History: Rev. granted 1/15/03: S111029

Appellant was sentenced in 1986 to life in prison for the second degree murder of his wife. Appellant had no previous record, his behavior in the institution was commendable, there were no psychiatric factors, and he had viable parole plans. At a 1999 parole hearing, the Board of Prison Terms (BPT) denied him a parole date based on the offense itself and the fact that the Board felt appellant needed more therapy. The trial court granted appellant’s writ, ordering the BPT to set a parole date because no evidence supported the denial. The BPT appealed. Here, the appellate court affirmed the trial court’s order. Penal Code section 3041 commands the BPT to set a parole date in a manner which will provide uniform terms for offenses of similar gravity. It must weigh the gravity of the offense against the gravity of other offenses of the same class, and take into account the term to which the inmate was sentenced. Remand for a new hearing was required in order for the BPT to consider the gravity of appellant’s offense as compared with other similar offenses, and in light of the minimum term prescribed by the Legislature for second degree murder, as well as appellant’s psychological evaluations.