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Texas Court of Appeals Upholds Dismissal of Suit Against Parole Board

by Matt Clarke

On February 23, 2016, a Texas court of appeals upheld the dismissal of a lawsuit brought against a parole board member and two parole commissioners.

John Henry Boykin, a Texas state prisoner, filed a state lawsuit against parole board member Cynthia Tauss and parole commissioners Lynn Ruzika and Frederico Rangel alleging they violated his Eighth Amendment right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment when they failed to release him on parole after he served 50% of his sentence. His suit was based upon a misinterpretation of Texas Government Code § 508.145(d)(1) which states that a prisoner who was convicted of a "3g" offense, such as Boykin, "is not eligible for release until the inmate's actual calendar time served equals one-half of the sentence." The trial court dismissed Boykin's cause of action as frivolous because it had no arguable basis in law or in fact. Boykin appealed.

The court of appeals held that the statute mandates eligibility, not release, upon completion of half of the sentence. The parole board still has the discretion to deny parole to eligible prisoners. The dismissal was affirmed. See: Boykin v. Tauss, Tex.App.-Houston [1st Dist.], No. 01-15-000413-CV

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Related legal case

Boykin v. Tauss