In 2008, a parolee of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice filed this lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Western District of Texas, under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, against the Texas Department of Pardons and Paroles. The plaintiff asked the court for injunctive relief, claiming that ...
read more >
In 2008, a parolee of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice filed this lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Western District of Texas, under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, against the Texas Department of Pardons and Paroles. The plaintiff asked the court for injunctive relief, claiming that his constitutional right to procedural due process was violated when sex offender conditions were imposed upon him in December of 2007, even though he had never been convicted of a sex offense. Specifically, the plaintiff claimed that he was denied an appropriate hearing as required by Coleman v. Dretke, 395 FJd 216, 219 (5th Cir. 2004), which held that parolees who have never been convicted of a sex offense have a liberty interest created by the due process clause in not having sex offender conditions placed upon their parole. Coleman also held that absent a conviction for a sex offense, the Department must afford a parolee an appropriate hearing and find that he possesses this offensive characteristic before imposing such conditions.
When the Parole Division recommended that sex offender conditions be placed on the plaintiff, it compiled a packet of information containing everything the Board of Pardons and Paroles, who would make the final decision, would consider in making its determination. Despite requests from the plaintiff's lawyers, the Parole Division refused to allow the plaintiff and his counsel to review the information, failed to give the plaintiff or his counsel notice of any hearing or review, or any opportunity to appear before the Commissioners who made the determination.
On August 6, 2009, the district court (Judge Sam Sparks) held that the state violated the plaintiff's procedural due process rights when it imposed sex offender conditions on him without affording him an appropriate hearing or making an explicit and considered finding that he constituted a threat to society by reason of his lack of sexual control. The court ordered that a new hearing be held on August 10, 2009, in which the plaintiff's counsel be given twenty minutes to make an oral presentation of the plaintiff's defense to the allegations against him. The court further ordered that all persons voting in the plaintiff's case be present at the hearing, that a court reporter be present at the hearing to record the proceedings, and that the plaintiff be awarded attorney's fees under 42 U.S.C. § 1988, should he prevail.
On January 22, 2010, the district court (Sam Sparks) ordered that the plaintiff take nothing on his claims brought under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The district court further ordered that the defendants were required to pay the plaintiff's reasonable attorneys' fees in the amount of $57,548.13, and reasonable costs and expenses in the amount of $18,236.80.Gregory Pitt - 07/11/2012