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Name: Scott v. Baldwin
Court: US Court of Appeals
District 9 Cir
Opinion Date: 09/01/2000
Subsequent History: None
Summary

Scott was convicted in 1979 of rape and attempted murder, and was sentenced under Oregon’s “dangerous offender” statute to two thirty-year sentences, with a minimum fifteen-year sentence for each. Under 1979 Oregon law, the Board of Parole and Post-Prison Supervision (“the Board”) was required to order biennial physical and psychological examinations of every inmate labeled a “dangerous offender,” and hold a hearing to determine whether to retain the designation. If the Board refused to lift the designation, the inmate was scheduled for a new hearing in two years. In 1981, the Oregon Legislature eliminated the biennial reviews, and instead required inmates to petition for a hearing, which would be held if there was “reasonable cause” to believe the inmate was no longer dangerous. Scott brought a petition for writ of habeas corpus when Oregon denied him a biennial hearing, setting his next hearing for nine years later. The appellate court here affirmed the decision of the district court which denied the petition. Here, the application of the 1981 statutory changes were not in violation of the Ex Post Facto clause. The controlling inquiry is whether the retroactive application of the change in the law created a significant risk of increasing the measure of punishment attached to the crimes. Scott could apply for a hearing at any time. That provision, combined with the requirement that the Board grant a hearing where a prisoner is no longer dangerous, made the 1981 amendment purely procedural. Further, Scott’s argument that the elimination of biennial psychological examinations gave the Board less information to review his case with, was purely speculative since there was no way of knowing whether a psychologist would have found Scott no longer dangerous.