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Judicial Review of Disciplinary Conviction Not Moot Upon Prisoner’s Release

On December 9, 2008, the Tennessee Court of Appeals at Nashville found that a former prisoner’s petition was not moot strictly because he had been released from custody. The appellate court remanded the case for a complete review of the record to determine whether the former prisoner sought relief other than that related to his sentence; if so, the merits of his petition must be addressed.

Paul L. Ivy, a prisoner in the Tennessee Department of Corrections (TDOC), was convicted by a disciplinary board of possessing security threat group material. He filed a petition for writ of certiorari challenging the legality of the disciplinary conviction.

His claim was dismissed by the trial court for failure to state a claim. Ivy appealed and the dismissal was reversed and the case remanded to the trial court. Meanwhile, Ivy was released from prison, prompting the TDOC to file a motion to dismiss based on the doctrine of mootness. The trial court granted the motion and Ivy filed a second appeal, arguing that he sought relief related to matters other than his sentence. Ivy’s main concern was that his conviction for possession of security threat group material would ultimately place him in the FBI’s gang member database. That listing would impact his ability to seek employment and housing, among other adverse affects.

The de novo review of the trial court’s decision was complicated by the fact that the record on appeal did not include a copy of Ivy’s original petition, which was cited in the first decision in the case. As a result, the appellate court was unable to examine his petition to determine whether his case “no longer serves as a means to provide some sort of judicial relief to the prevailing party.”

If, in fact, Ivy requested relief other than that related to his sentence, his case would not be considered moot due to his release from prison. Therefore, the appellate court again remanded the case to the trial court to review the complete record and determine whether Ivy sought relief other than that related to his sentence. If so, the trial court must address the merits of his petition. See: Ivy v. TDOC, Case No. M2007-02606-COA-R3-CV (Tenn. Ct. App. 2008); 2008 WL 5169563.

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Related legal case

Ivy v. TDOC