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D.C. Circuit Rejects Ex Post Facto Challenge to Application of Parole Regulations

On August 6, 2010, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit affirmed a denial of habeas relief to a prisoner who claimed that the U.S. Parole Commission violated the Ex Post Facto Clause in denying him parole.

Charles Phillips was convicted of murdering two people in 1977 and was sentenced to 35.5 years to life. Phillips was denied parole in 2005 after applying 2000 regulations to parole.

Phillips sought habeas relief, arguing that the Parole Commission’s use of the 2000 regulations violated the Ex Post Facto Clause. The district court denied relief and the D.C. Circuit affirmed.

The court held that there was no Ex Post Facto problem because the regulations before 2000 were the same as the 2000 regulations. Moreover, the court noted that Phillips’ denial of parole was not tied to the 2000 regulations, but rather the Parole Commission’s finding that Phillip’s offense conduct posed a “serious risk [to society].” See: Phillips v. Fulwood, No. 08-5385 (D.C. Cir. 2010).

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Related legal case

Phillips v. Fulwood