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Florida Supreme Court: Review of Parole Commission Revocation Order Limited

Florida Supreme Court: Review of Parole Commission Revocation Order Limited

by David M. Reutter

On January 23, 2014, the Florida Supreme Court quashed an appellate court’s order because it exceeded the scope of second-tier review of a prisoner’s habeas corpus petition challenging the revocation of his conditional release.

The petition, filed by prisoner Robert Taylor, challenged an order by the Florida Parole Commission (FPC) that revoked his conditional release, which is a type of supervision imposed on certain classes of prisoners upon completion of their sentence. Conditional release lasts for the amount of good time a prisoner earned.

Taylor was found by a parole examiner to have committed a “willful and substantial” violation by his admitted use of marijuana in 2010. The FPC stated it was in “the best interests of society,” as well as Taylor’s best interests, that he be returned to prison. A circuit court denied Taylor’s habeas petition, in which he argued the FPC did not “state with particularly” its reasons for departing from the parole examiner’s recommendation to reinstate his conditional release.

Florida’s First District Court of Appeal, on second-tier certiorari review, considered the facts in the case and concluded that a miscarriage of justice had occurred because the FPC had abused its discretion. See: Taylor v. Florida Parole Commission, 75 So.3d 307 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 1st Dist. 2011).

The FPC appealed and the state Supreme Court reversed.

In Florida, appellate review of an FPC decision in the circuit court is not entitled to a second plenary appeal in the district court, the Supreme Court held. Thus, it was error for the First District when it reviewed de novo “the decision of the FPC to revoke Taylor’s conditional release, rather than confining its review to the propriety of the circuit court’s order.”

The FPC is free to decide upon a sanction once a substantial, willful violation occurs, as was found by the parole examiner in this case. The Supreme Court also held that the FPC’s statement of “best interest” was “arguably sufficient” to meet statutory requirements, and if the agency’s order was in error, the proper remedy was to provide “an opportunity for the FPC to supplement its order.” See: Florida Parole Commission v. Taylor, 132 So.3d 780 (Fla. 2014).


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Related legal cases

Florida Parole Commission v. Taylor

Taylor v. Florida Parole Commission