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California Appeals Court Holds Release from Prison Moots Challenge to Parole Denial

The California Court of Appeal, Third District, has held that release from prison moots a prisoner’s habeas corpus petition challenging an adverse decision by the Board of Parole Hearings (“Board”).

Convicted of second-degree murder in 1984, Damian Miranda was sentenced to an indeterminate term of 19 years to life. In June 2003 the Board found Miranda suitable for parole, but the Governor subsequently reversed that decision.

In November 2004, after the superior court granted his petition for writ of habeas corpus, Miranda was released from prison. The Court of Appeal, however, reversed that decision in 2006; nonetheless, Miranda remained free pending a new parole consideration hearing.

That hearing was held in January 2007, at which time the Board, disagreeing with its previous 2003 decision, found that Miranda was not suitable for parole.

Despite the Board’s determination, Miranda was not returned to prison until May 2008. He then filed a petition challenging the 2007 parole denial. The superior court denied his petition in June 2009. Later that same month, however, the Board held another hearing and found Miranda suitable for parole. This time the Governor did not reverse that decision and Miranda was released on parole in November 2009.

Meanwhile, Miranda had petitioned the Court of Appeal regarding his 2007 parole denial. The appellate court held that Miranda’s petition was moot “because the only remedy he requests (immediate release) and the only remedy we have authority to give (a new parole-suitability hearing) are no remedy at all to one who has already been released from prison.” That decision was a direct consequence of the California Supreme Court’s ruling in In re Prather, 50 Cal.4th 238, 234 P.3d 541 (Cal. 2010) [PLN, Nov. 2010, p.40].

Similarly, the Court of Appeal rejected Miranda’s argument that if his due process rights had been violated in 2007, then his parole period should be ordered shortened. Under Prather, the Court reasoned, that remedy was “unavailable.” See: In re Miranda, 91 Cal.App.4th 757, 120 Cal.Rptr.3d 461 (Cal.App.3 Dist. 2011), review denied.

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Related legal case

In re Miranda