Sunday, October 31, 2010

Pearson v. Muntz, 625 F.3d 539 (9th Cir. 2010) [abrogated in Swarthout v. Cooke, infra.

Federal courts manage California county jails; state prisons; parole hearings; issue habeas corpus on state court rulings; decide state elections and Initiatives; supervise the Los Angeles Police Dept.; appoint Receivers. In Pearson v. Muntz, on rehearing en banc, the 9th Circuit held it could compel parole of a prison inmate denied release by the Governor of California who did not comply with state rules on parole release. The California Supreme Court has held that under California law, the Board of Prison Terms must find "some evidence" of the inmate's present dangerousness to prevent his release on parole. According to the 9th Circuit majority, the Governor, who exercises review authority of the Board, did not follow state law in denying Pearson's parole. According to the Ninth Circuit, failure of a state to follow state law violates federal due process. The dissenters (seven judges dissenting from denial of rehearing) in Pearson argued the 9th Circuit is bound by AEDPA, the federal statute circumscribing federal judicial review of state court cases and simultaneously limiting their appellate powers only to cases that fail to follow "established Supreme Court law." There is no Supreme Court law mandating the 9th Circuit to interpret state statutory or state Constitutional law unless violative of federal due process. The Supreme Court has held the states are under no obligation to allow parole, and the only "process" that is "due" allows the prisoner an opportunity to be heard. Not a single Supreme Court case authorizes a federal court to review state parole law other than that provision.

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