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Fifth Circuit: "Some Evidence" Not Required To Deny Texas Mandatory Supervision

Fifth Circuit: "Some Evidence" Not Required To Deny Texas Mandatory Supervision

By Matt Clarke

On December 12, 2008, the Fifth Circuit court of appeals held that the "some evidence" standard of Superintendent v. Hill, 472 U.S. 445, 105 S.Ct. 2768, 86 L.Ed. 356 (1985), did not apply to denial of mandatory supervision release (MSR) to a Texas prisoner.

Jackie Lynn Boss, a Texas state prisoner, was denied MSR. The parole panel’s decision listed statutory reasons for the denial, but no evidence to support the reasons. Relying on Sass v. California Board of Prison Terms, 461 F.3d 1123 (9th Cir. 2006), in which the Ninth Circuit applied Hill's "some evidence" requirement to California parole denials, Boss filed a federal petition for a writ of habeas corpus under 28 U.S.C. § 2254, alleging a lack of due process in the denial of MSR. The district court denied the petition.

Boss appealed.

Disagreeing with the Ninth Circuit, the Fifth Circuit held that Hill, which was based on a prison disciplinary action, did not apply to mandatory supervision decisions. This was because prison disciplinary actions are fact-driven while conditional release decisions are somewhat predictive in nature. For that reason, the Fifth Circuit held that Greenholtz v. Inmates of Nebraska Penal &Correctional Complex, 442 U.S. 1, 99 S.Ct. 2100, 60 L.Ed.2d 668 (1979), which dealt with parole decisions, was the controlling case. The Fifth Circuit had previously held that the current Texas mandatory supervision scheme, which creates an expectation of release but allows the parole board to overrule release, was "virtually identical" to the parole scheme at issue in Greenholtz. Greenholtz had no requirement that "some evidence" exists to support the denial of parole, so there was no requirement of some supporting evidence for denial of mandatory supervision in Texas. Therefore, the Fifth Circuit affirmed the denial of the petition.

See: Boss v. Quarterman, 552 F.3d 425, (5th Cir. 2008).

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Related legal case

Boss v. Quarterman