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Name: In re J.G.
Case #: C055155
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 3 DCA
Opinion Date: 02/01/2008
Summary

Penal Code sections 2911, 3041.5 and 3041.7 give prisoners serving a life sentence out of state the right to be personally present at their parole hearings. Petitioner, an inmate serving multiple life terms for several murder convictions, is serving his sentences out of state under the Federal Witness Protection Program. Because he is serving his sentences out of state, the Board of Parole Hearings (BPH) has, pursuant to California Code of Regulations, title 15, section 2367, subdivisions (d)(1) and (d)(2), denied him the right to appear in person at his “lifers” parole hearing. These regulations provide that out-of-state lifers appear at their parole hearings via telephone. In a habeas petition re-filed in the Court of Appeal, petitioner alleged that, by denying him the right to appear in person at his parole hearing, the BPH had violated his rights under Penal Code sections 2911, 3041.5 and 3041.7. The Court of Appeal agreed, holding that these statutes give the prisoner serving a life sentence the right to be personally present at his parole hearing, and that, because it conflicts with this statutory right, Code of Regulations, title 15, section 2367, subdivisions (d)(1) and (d)(2), is void as to petitioner and other similarly-situated prisoners. The Court of Appeal granted petitioner’s writ and ordered the BPH to comply with Penal Code sections 2911, 3041.5 and 3041.7, by allowing petitioner to personally attend his parole hearing. The Court of Appeal also rejected respondent’s claim that this issue was mooted by the fact that the BPH had stated that it would allow petitioner to be personally present at his next parole hearing. Noting that some California prisoners are serving their sentences outside state boundaries, the court found this is an issue capable of repetition yet evading review.