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Name: In re Juarez
Case #: A125665
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 1 DCA
Division: 2
Opinion Date: 03/16/2010

A writ petition was granted where there was no evidence to support the BPT finding that petitioner posed an unreasonable risk of danger to society. Juarez was convicted in 1982 of second degree murder when he lost control of his vehicle while driving impaired by PCP and racing away from police. Juarez was a repeat substance abuser and had been in previous collisions. At the time of his parole hearing in July, 2008, he had accepted responsibility for the offense, did not dispute the facts, had been a model prisoner, and was participating in substance abuse programs. He became a licensed optician in prison and had job offers upon his release. Psychological evaluations concluded he posed a low risk for violence and was suitable for parole. Nonetheless, BPT denied his parole based on “questions” regarding his credibility at the time trial, the fact that he had a history of violence, and the fact that the offense was carried out in a cruel and callous matter. On appeal, Juarez argued that the denial of parole violated his due process rights because the BPT did not establish a rational nexus between its reasons for denial and his current dangerousness. Further, the BPT engaged in “rote recitation” of certain factors without giving individualized consideration to the particular case, and did not consider all the suitability factors. The appellate court agreed and granted writ relief. In light of the offense, the period of time which had elapsed, the affirmative evidence of his postconviction conduct, his current mental state, and future parole prospects, there was no evidence to support the BPT’s finding that he poses a danger to public safety if released. The case was remanded and BPT directed to hold a new hearing and find petitioner suitable for parole unless new evidence subsequent to the previous hearing showed his release posed an unreasonable risk of danger to society.