Las Vegas Sun

October 24, 2014

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Court rules parole hearings aren’t subject to due process requirements

CARSON CITY – Prison inmates don't have constitutional due process protections in a parole hearing, the Nevada Supreme Court ruled Thursday.

The court held that the possibility of release on parole is “not a protectable liberty interest.”

The unanimous decision, written by Justice James Hardesty, is aimed at clarifying different rulings in district courts involving two inmates both serving time for sexual offenses.

“Accordingly, because Nevada’s parole release statute does not create a liberty interest, we reiterate that inmates are not entitled to constitutional due process protections with respect to parole release hearings,” the court said.

District Judge James Bixler ruled in Las Vegas that Richard D. Morrow had such constitutional rights. Morrow was granted parole, but it was reversed before he got out of prison.

He filed suit seeking a new parole hearing with proper notice and asked that the Parole Board provide him with copies of all documents in his file and all documents the board considered when it denied his release. Bixler directed the board to turn over all documents and the exact information the Parole Board considered when it rejected his application.

District Judge James Wilson of Carson City dismissed a petition sought by Brian Kamedula, who was convicted of sexual assault and sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole.

Kamedula filed suit claiming the Parole Board violated the Open Meeting Law when it denied his petition for release. He also claimed his due process rights were violated.

The court said, “Although inmates in Nevada are currently afforded statutory due process protections related to parole release hearings, those protections did not apply to Morrow’s and Kamedula’s parole hearings.”

The court said Bixler “abused his discretion in requiring the state to provide Morrow with a copy of every document the Parole Board considered when it denied him parole.”

The court said Wilson properly dismissed Kamedula’s complaint because "the prisoner failed to state a claim against the Parole Board upon which relief may be granted."

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