Skip navigation
× You have 2 more free articles available this month. Subscribe today.

Texas Parole Officials Caught Lying to Federal Court With Impunity

A Texas federal court has dismissed as moot a parolee’s challenge to parole restrictions which prevented him from having unsupervised contact with his son. During the course of the litigation, parole officials repeatedly misled the court.

Gerald Grant, a Texas parolee, was convicted of possessing four photographs of child pornography which, according to court documents, he was persuaded to take in a sting-like operation involving a prostitute who worked with the San Antonio District Attorney’s Office.

He was sentenced to five years in prison and released on mandatory supervision two years later. As a condition of his release, the Parole Board imposed portions of Special Condition “X” (onerous parole conditions for sex offenders), which stated Grant could not “reside with, contact, or cause to be contacted any person 17 years of age or younger, in person, by telephone, correspondence, video or audio device, third person, media, or any electronic means” unless approved by his parole officer. Parole Division/Policy and Operating Procedure (PD/POP) 3.6.2.

Grant had a five-year-old son, Ethan. The parole restriction prevented him from living with his wife and son or even visiting his son without the supervision of a person unanimously approved by the local parole panel. At the time, Subsection I of the PD/POP authorized parolees who had managing conservatorship or custody of a child via divorce, adoption or judicial decree to have contact with the child. After unsuccessful attempts to administratively remedy the restrictions, Grant filed a 42 U.S.C. § 1983 civil rights suit in federal district court against parole officials, complaining of interference with his parental relationship and seeking injunctive and declaratory relief.

During the litigation, Grant’s wife began divorce proceedings and a state court signed an order giving Grant unlimited, unsupervised visitation rights. The parole official defendants filed a motion to dismiss, claiming the issue was moot because the state court had granted Grant the visitation rights he was seeking in his lawsuit.

However, the defendants failed to tell the court that (1) the Parole Board and its officers were ignoring the state court order and continuing to restrict Grant’s visitation with his son, and (2) around the time the motion was filed, the Parole Board deleted Subsection I so there was no longer an exemption for parolees with court orders.

“To say that the Defendants’ briefing in this Court has been disingenuous would be generous. The Defendants’ statements and briefs appear to have been filed in complete disregard of what Texas parole officials were actually doing,” the federal magistrate judge noted in a report and recommendation.

Eventually, the Parole Board modified the conditions of Grant’s parole, allowing him to visit and live with Ethan. The defendants then filed another motion to dismiss the case as moot. The U.S. District Court granted the motion and, because the change was “voluntary” rather than pursuant to a court order, denied Grant’s request for attorney fees.
Grant was represented by attorneys William T. Habern and Richard Gladden. See: Grant v. Owens, U.S.D.C. (WD Texas-Austin), Case No. 1:2005-cv-00316-LY.

As a digital subscriber to Prison Legal News, you can access full text and downloads for this and other premium content.

Subscribe today

Already a subscriber? Login

Related legal case

Grant v. Owens