California Parole Term Not Shortened by Improper Parole Denial
by Mark Wilson
On February 3, 2014, the California Supreme Court held that a prisoner erroneously denied parole was not entitled to have his parole term reduced by the length of improper confinement.
Johnny Lira was sentenced to an indeterminate sentence of 15 years to life for a 1981 murder. In December 2005, the California Board of Parole Hearings (Board) denied Lira parole for the ninth time. He successfully challenged that denial in a state habeas corpus proceeding, and the Board held a new hearing in November 2008.
The Board found Lira suitable for parole at the rehearing, but then-Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger reversed the Board’s decision in April 2009 and Lira challenged the reversal in another state habeas proceeding.
While the habeas case was pending, the Board again found Lira suitable for parole in November 2009. This time the Governor did not review or reverse the decision, and Lira was released on April 8, 2010, subject to a maximum five-year parole term.
Lira argued in his habeas proceeding that he should receive “credit against his parole term for all the time he spent in prison” between the improper 2005 parole denial, which he had successfully challenged, and his April 8, 2010 release from prison. Granting the credit would effectively result in his release with no parole supervision.
The superior court agreed, ordering that credit be awarded against Lira’s parole term for the period between the date he should have been released following the December 2005 parole decision and his actual release. The Court of Appeal affirmed in part in June 2012, awarding partial credit to Lira against his parole term. [See: PLN, May 2013 p.42].
The California Supreme Court reversed, finding “that Lira was lawfully imprisoned during this period until the day he was released, and he received credit against his term of life imprisonment for all such days and is not entitled to any credit against his parole term.” See: In re Lira, 58 Cal. 4th 573, 317 P.3d 619 (Cal. 2014).
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Related legal case
In re Lira
|Cite||58 Cal. 4th 573, 317 P.3d 619 (Cal. 2014)|
|Level||State Supreme Court|