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Name: In re Masoner
Case #: B218150
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 2 DCA
Division: 3
Opinion Date: 12/11/2009
Summary

Where there is no evidence supporting the Governor’s reversal of the Board of Parole’s decision granting an inmate parole, the superior court has the authority to reinstate the board’s decision without remanding the matter to the Governor for further consideration. In 1984, petitioner was convicted of second degree murder resulting from a drunk driving incident and sentenced to state prison for 15 years to life. Masoner proved to be a model prisoner and in 2007, the Board of Parole found him suitable for parole. The Governor reversed the decision, citing the nature of the commitment offense and petitioner’s lack of insight into the offense. The superior court granted petitioner’s subsequent petition for writ of habeas corpus, finding the Governor’s decision was not supported by the record. The state appealed and, without disputing the superior court’s finding, it contended that the proper remedy is remand to the Governor for further consideration. The appellate court disagreed. Here, because the Governor had already been given full opportunity to exercise its constitutional and statutory right to review the board’s suitability decision, the superior court’s decision reinstating the board’s decision did not divest the Governor of due process in his review rights. Remanding to the Governor would be an idle act and allowing the Governor an unlimited number of reviews of the board’s decision would violate the prisoner’s due process rights and render the writ of habeas corpus meaningless.