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Name: In re Prather
Case #: S172903
Court: CA Supreme Court
District CalSup
Opinion Date: 07/29/2010

When a court directs the Parole Board to conduct a new parole-suitability hearing, the court should not improperly limit the type of evidence the board is statutorily obliged to consider. The Supreme Court granted review to settle a split among the appellate courts as to what action a reviewing court could order the Parole Board to take when it grants a new parole-suitability hearing. The court held is improper for the reviewing court to order the board to consider only a limited category of evidence in making its finding. Specifically, the reviewing court should not order the board to consider only new and different evidence that has emerged since the suitability hearing under review. To do so violates the separation of powers doctrine. The board is the administrative agency within the executive branch that is authorized to grant parole, with veto power vesting in the Governor. While judicial review of parole-suitability is proper so that the petitioner has due process, an order limiting the board’s discretion as to what factors it can consider on remand “impermissibly impairs the board’s exercise of its inherent discretion to decide parole matters.”