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Name: In re Sanchez
Case #: G046189
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 4 DCA
Division: 3
Opinion Date: 08/31/2012

The Board of Parole Hearings (BPH) erred by finding that the inmate represents a current danger based on discrepancies between the Court of Appeal’s summary of the life offense and the inmate’s account. In 1993 the inmate committed a gang-related driveby shooting that left a man paralyzed from the waist down. He was convicted of attempted murder and other charges and sentenced to a term that included life with possibility of parole. On several occasions since 2006 the BPH denied parole. Since then the inmate did well in custody and accepted responsibility for the life offense. He attended self help groups, job training, and educational programs. The inmate filed a writ petition after the BPH denied parole in 2010. Held: Petition granted and case remanded for a new parole hearing. The BPH denied parole because the inmate minimized his role both in the life offense and in his gang in 1993, which reflected a criminal mentality. This, along with his unstable social history and the nature of the offense, posed a current danger. These conclusions were reached by relying on the Court of Appeal opinion on direct review, finding the inmate’s denial of the “official account” a shirking of responsibility for the offense and minimizing his gang status, which meant he lacked insight into his life crime. However, any inconsequential discrepancies between the inmate’s version of events and the opinion did not reflect continuing dangerousness. Although credibility regarding the inmate’s version of events is for the BPH to determine, here, the denial of parole did not turn on a question of the inmate’s credibility but “on the Board’s mistaken enshrinement of an official version of the offense.” The BPH therefore did not give meaningful review to the inmate’s credibility or insight into the life crime and the conclusion that the inmate refused to acknowledge responsibility for the offense was therefore arbitrary.