The Realignment Act, which transferred jurisdiction over most parole revocation hearings to the superior court, did not abrogate the need for a preliminary hearing pursuant to Morrissey v. Brewer (1972) 408 U.S. 471. Defendant was arrested for possession of pornography in violation of a term of his parole. The supervising parole agent with the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation found probable cause to revoke his parole, gave him written notice of the alleged violation, and filed a parole revocation petition in the superior court. After an ex parte review, a judicial officer summarily revoked DeLeon’s parole. At a hearing 19 days after his arrest, Deleon moved to dismiss the petition because he had not been afforded a preliminary hearing within 15 days of arrest, as specified in Penal Code section 3044. The trial court found the ex parte review satisfied due process. A revocation hearing was held and DeLeon’s parole revoked. The Court of Appeal affirmed. The California Supreme Court granted review. Held: Reversed. Under Morrissey, parolees facing revocation are entitled to a prompt preliminary hearing after arrest to assess the probable cause to hold a parole revocation hearing. The Realignment Act shifted jurisdiction over most parole revocation hearings from the Board of Parole Hearings to the superior courts (Pen. Code, §§ 1203.2, 3000.08). Section 1203.2 does not expressly provide for a preliminary hearing, and although section 3044 requires a preliminary hearing, this requirement applies to the Board and not to the superior court. However, the right to a preliminary hearing is a procedural due process protection that is firmly established in constitutional precedent. DeLeon was improperly deprived of that hearing. Because DeLeon had completed his term of incarceration and his parole supervision had terminated, the court reversed the judgment and remanded with directions to dismiss the appeal as moot.
The full opinion is available on the court’s website here: http://www.courts.ca.gov/opinions/documents/S230906.PDF