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Denial of Parole No Basis for Writ of Mandamus in Arkansas

by Dale Chappell

A petitioner’s claim that his rights were violated when he was denied parole is no basis for a writ of mandamus, the Arkansas Supreme Court held on August 3, 2017.

Anthony Warren filed a petition for a writ of mandamus in the Jefferson County Circuit Court on August 5, 2016, contending that his rights were violated when he was denied parole eligibility by the Arkansas Department of Corrections (ADC). The circuit court denied Warren’s petition on November 1, 2016, finding he had failed to establish he had a right to be paroled.

The state Supreme Court affirmed the circuit court’s denial on appeal, noting that “the purpose of a writ of mandamus is to enforce an established right or to enforce the performance of a duty.” The Court found there was no evidence in the record to support Warren’s contentions for relief; there was no evidence he was subject to a parole hearing, and no evidence of his underlying convictions.

Citing precedent that a petitioner-appellant has the burden to present a sufficient record on appeal, the Supreme Court held it had no choice but to affirm the lower court’s decision based on the record before it. The Court also held that a writ of mandamus “does not lie to control or review matters of discretion.” The determination of parole eligibility, it noted, is solely within the discretion of the ADC.

“Because Warren has failed to establish a right or performance of a duty, he has provided no basis for a writ of mandamus to issue,” the Supreme Court concluded. See: Warren v. Felts, 2017 Ark. 237 (Ark. 2017).

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Related legal case

Warren v. Felts