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U.S. First Circuit Court of Appeals Affirms Parole Board

The United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit affirmed the decision of the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts in upholding the Massachusetts Parole Board’s denial of parole for Appellant Rolando Jimenez for the 1982 second-degree murder of a police officer. Jimenez was denied parole in 1999, 2004 and 2009 before filing a 42 U.S.C. § 1983 civil rights claim seeking declaratory and injunctive relief for alleged violations of his rights to due process and equal protection under the Fourteenth Amendment, as well as the Commonwealth of Massachusetts’ counterpart protections.

The district court granted the parole board’s motion to dismiss for failure on the part of Jimenez to state an actionable claim, and likewise dismissed the state law claims.

Jimenez alleged his ability to obtain parole was rendered unlikely due to the occupation of his victim, and that the parole board was biased against him to the extent that his due process rights were violated. The Court of Appeals discounted that assertion because due process issues pertain to life, liberty and property — the issue in question being a liberty issue — and it is well established that for prisoners, liberty prior to completion of an active sentence is not a right unless specified in statute.

Likewise, Jimenez’s claim that his choice of trial by jury adversely affected his parolability was held to be without merit, as the facts of the case remained the same and drove the action to its conclusion regardless of who had heard the case.

In the same way, the parole board's alleged discrimination as a result of Jimenez’s prior attempt to relitigate his cause did nothing to change or clarify the facts of the case.

The Court of Appeals likewise held that the equal protection claim was inadequate because it is within the reasonable administrative purview of the parole board to take into account the occupation of the victim and to seek to pursue a non-parole policy as a deterrent. See: Jimenez v. Conrad, 678 F.3d 44 (1st Cir. 2012).

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Related legal case

Jimenez v. Conrad