Providence County Superior Court.
For Plaintiff: Richard B. Woolley, Esq.
For Defendant: Hector L. Jaiman, pro se.
Hector L. Jaiman (Defendant) brings this Motion to Compel Compliance with State Law. He argues that the Parole Board violated his due process rights during his parole revocation hearing. This Court derives its jurisdiction from G.L. 1956 § 8-2-15. For the reasons set forth below, this Court denies Defendant's motion.
I Facts and Travel
On March 3, 2000, Defendant was convicted of first degree murder and sentenced to a term of life imprisonment. Subsequently, on February 11, 2013, Defendant was paroled to a halfway house, the Phoenix House program, in Rhode Island. On April 23, 2013, Defendant was arrested as a parole violator and given notice of his violation of parole the following day. Specifically, three allegations were made against him that resulted in his discharge from the treatment program: (1) tardiness from passes, deviation from trips, and returning with money; (2)letters written that implied the sale of narcotics to female residents at the halfway house; and (3)unauthorized cell phone possession and use.
Defendant requested a preliminary hearing regarding the parole violation. (Def.'s Ex. A, Preliminary Notice of Parole Violation, Apr. 24, 2013.) The preliminary hearing was scheduled on May 6, 2013 to determine whether there was probable cause to believe that Defendant had violated the conditions of his release. (Def.'s Ex. B, Notice of Preliminary Hearing, Apr. 29, 2013.) Specifically, the purpose of the hearing was to determine whether Defendant violated condition number nineteen—successful completion of the Phoenix House Program.
At the hearing, three witnesses were presented: Parole Officer Greg Williams (Parole Officer); Colleen Thompson, Defendant's Primary Counselor (Counselor) at the Phoenix House; and Fred M. Pierce, Clinical Supervisor of the Phoenix House (Clinical Supervisor). (Def.'s Ex. R, Probable Cause Hearing Summary (Ex. R), at 1.) The testimony revealed that two female clients gave notes to the staff that allegedly were written by the Defendant, and that the staff gave the letters to the Counselor. Id. at 4. The Probable Cause Hearing Summary states: "For the record the notes say that a client wanted to meet up with a female client on the outside and gives a number for the female client to call. It also says that the female client told the writer that she likes dope and the writer has that for them and 'I'll hook you up for free.'" Id. At that point, the hearing officer interjected and asked that the female clients not be identified by name and the Defendant's attorney agreed. Id. The testimony also revealed that the Defendant never applied for a cell phone privilege, that he had a cellphone without permission, and that such a violation is a discharging offense. (Ex. R at 5, 7.) Finally, the testimony revealed that when returning from trips, the Defendant would check in late into the halfway house. Id. at 5.
There was also conflicting testimony regarding the reasons for the Defendant's discharge. The Counselor stated that the letters triggered the discharge and that the Defendant would not have been discharged if it had not been for the letters. Id. During closing argument, however, the Parole Officer stated that the Defendant was discharged for the "totality of his behavior at the Phoenix house, not just the letters . . . ." Id. at 9. Following the hearing, the Defendant filed the instant Motion to Compel Compliance with State Law.
II Standard of Review
"It is well established that 'a probation-revocation hearing is not part of the criminal-prosecution process and thus is not entitled to the full panoply of due-process rights.'" State v. Lawrence, 658 A.2d 890, 892 (R.I. 1995) (citing In re Lamarine, 527 A.2d 1133, 1135 (R.I. 1987)); see State v. Salvail, 117 R.I. 1, 6, 362 A.2d 135, 138 (1976) (stating that the "'full panoply of rights' applicable to a defendant at a criminal proceeding does not apply at a violation or revocation hearing . . . .") (quoting Morrissey v. Brewer, 408 U.S. 471, 480 (1972)). The reason for this general rule is that "'[p]arole arises after the end of the criminal prosecution, including imposition of sentence. . . . Revocation deprives an individual, not of the absolute liberty to which every citizen is entitled, but only of the conditional liberty properly dependent on observance of special parole restrictions.'" Gagnon v. Scarpelli, 411 U.S. 778, 781 (1973) (quoting Morrissey, 408 U.S. at 480).
Nevertheless, parolees must be afforded "a minimum degree of due-process protection" at parole revocation hearings. Gaze v. State, 521 A.2d 125, 127 (R.I. 1987). In Morrissey, the seminal case addressing due process rights in the context of a parole revocation hearing, the United States Supreme Court explained that due process is a flexible concept requiring that the alleged violator be given an "informal hearing structured to assure that the finding of a parole . . . violation will be based on verified facts and that the exercise of discretion will be informed by an accurate knowledge of the parolee's . . . behavior." Morrissey, 408 U.S. at 484. Thus, "[t]he defendant in a [parole] violation hearing is entitled to the minimum due process protections of 'notice of the hearing, notice of the claimed violation, the opportunity to be heard and present evidence [on] defendant's ...