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No Sixth Amendment Right to Confront Witnesses at Parole Revocation Hearings

By Brandon Sample

The Sixth Amendment’s right to confront witnesses does not apply to parole revocation proceedings, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit decided November 24th, 2010.

The U.S. Parole Commission revoked Bruce A. Curtis’ parole after he was convicted of assault in state court. Curtis was initially charged with attempted rape, but that charge was dropped in exchange for his plea to assault charges.

At Curtis’ parole revocation hearing, the parole board considered testimony from a detective who investigated the attempted rape allegations. The victim did not appear, as she was unable to be located. The Parole Commission revoked Curtis’ parole based on his assault conviction and its finding that Curtis attempted to rape the victim.

Curtis filed a habeas petition arguing that the Parole Commission violated his Sixth Amendment rights by finding that he engaged in an attempted rape without affording him the right to confront the victim.

The Tenth Circuit affirmed the district court’s denial of relief. “Sixth Amendment rights are not applicable in parole revocation hearings because those hearings are not ‘criminal prosecutions,’” the court wrote. The court also noted that all circuits that have considered the issue are in agreement that the Sixth Amendment does not apply to parole revocations. See: Curtis v. Chester, 626 F.3d 540 (10th Cir. 2010).

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Related legal case

Curtis v. Chester