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Parole Denied After 33 Years Based on California Prisoner's Original Crimes

California Corrections Secretary James Tilton appealed a Superior Court’s reversal of parole denial to state prisoner Paul Hyde. He argued that Hyde's violent robbery and murders in 1972 and 1973 constituted "some evidence" to support the denial of his parole. The appellate court agreed, and reinstated the denial by the Board of Parole Hearings (Board).

Hyde’s robberies included unprovoked murders. His minimum parole eligibility was in 1980, and he had been turned down 19 times for parole. He eventually earned college credits, attended all available self-help courses and received outstanding reviews from staff.

A 2005 psycho-social evaluation ultimately found his dangerousness level below that of other prisoners, and his parole plan was approved. The Board denied Hyde parole, however, based on the heinous, callous and calculated crimes he had committed. Hyde appealed, claiming due process violation because "some evidence" supported his parole suitability. The Superior Court reversed the denial of parole, holding that 33 years of imprisonment had diminished Hyde’s likelihood of re-offending. Tilton appealed the reversal, arguing that "some evidence" supported the Board's denial due to Hyde’s "exceptionally egregious" crimes.

The Second District, Division Two Court of Appeal of California reinstated the Board's denial of parole, holding that the "some evidence" test only needed to determine whether a prisoner’s release unreasonably endangered public safety, and that the Board had acted within its discretion. See: In re Hyde, 154 Cal.App.4th 1200, 65 Cal.Rptr.3d 162 (Cal.App. 2 Dist. 2007), review denied.

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Related legal case

In re Hyde