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Case Name Burnette v. Fahey PC-VA-0015
Docket / Court 3:10-cv-00070-REP ( E.D. Va. )
State/Territory Virginia
Case Type(s) Prison Conditions
Case Summary
On February 03, 2010, eleven Virginia inmates filed a class action against the Virginia Parole Board ("the Board") under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, Richmond Division, challenging the Board's denials of parole for inmates convicted of violent ... read more >
On February 03, 2010, eleven Virginia inmates filed a class action against the Virginia Parole Board ("the Board") under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, Richmond Division, challenging the Board's denials of parole for inmates convicted of violent offenses solely because of the nature and circumstances of their crimes.

Plaintiffs bring this action on behalf of a class of persons currently incarcerated by the Virginia Department of Corrections ("DOC") for violent offenses committed prior to January 1, 1995, who are or will become eligible for parole, and who have been or are likely to be denied parole exclusively or primarily by reference to the "serious nature or circumstances of the crime" or words to that effect.

Plaintiffs seek declaratory and injunctive relief. Plaintiffs claim that the Board has adopted and implemented practices, policies and procedures for making parole determinations without considering all the circumstances that Virginia law requires to be considered, resulting in a drastic reduction in the availability of parole for inmates convicted of violent offenses and the de facto abolition of the provisions of Virginia law governing parole for such inmates. Moreover, Plaintiffs claim these practices, policies and procedures have created a significant risk of increasing the measure of punishment attached to such inmates' crimes at the time of sentencing. The Board's actions have violated due process and constitute an ex post facto enhancement of Plaintiffs' punishments, in violation of the United States Constitution.

On March 01, 2010, Defendants filed a Motion to Dismiss. On October 25, 2010, the Court (Judge Robert E. Payne) dismissed the case with prejudice. Judge Payne held that both of Plaintiffs' claims--the due process claim and the ex post facto claim--are legally insufficient and must be dismissed. In addition, the dismissal of the Complaint as legally insufficient necessitates that the Plaintiffs' Motion to Conduct Limited Discovery will also be denied.

On November 22, 2010, Plaintiffs filed a Motion to Alter Judgment Pursuant to Rule 59(E). In their Rule 59(e) motion, Plaintiffs requested that the Court alter or amend its order of dismissal to be "without prejudice" in order to provide Plaintiffs an opportunity to amend their Complaint to comply with standards articulated by the Court in its Memorandum Opinion issued on October 25, 2010.

On March 01, 2011, Judge Payne denied Plaintiffs' Motion to Alter Judgment. Plaintiff appealed the case to the Fourth Circuit.

Xin Chen - 04/30/2011


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
General
Grievance Procedures
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Type of Facility
Government-run
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Defendant(s) Virginia Parole Board
Plaintiff Description A class of persons currently incarcerated for violent offenses, who are or will become eligible for parole, and who have been or are likely to be denied parole exclusively or primarily by reference to the "serious nature or circumstances of the crime."
Indexed Lawyer Organizations None on record
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status granted No
Prevailing Party Defendant
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief None
Source of Relief None
Form of Settlement None on record
Order Duration not on record
Case Closing Year 2010
Case Ongoing No
Additional Resources
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Case Studies Civil Rights Injunctions Over Time: A Case Study of Jail and Prison Court Orders
N.Y.U. Law Review
By: Margo Schlanger (Washington University)
Citation: 81 N.Y.U. L. Rev. 550 (2006)
[ Detail ] [ PDF ] [ External Link ]

  Judicial Policy Making and the Modern State: How the Courts Reformed America's Prisons
By: Malcolm M. Feeley & Edward Rubin (UC Berkeley Boalt Hall School of Law & Vanderbilt School of Law Faculty)
Citation: (1998)
[ Detail ]

Docket(s)
3:10-cv-00070-REP (E.D. Va.) 04/13/2011
PC-VA-0015-9000.pdf | Detail
PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Complaint 02/03/2010
PC-VA-0015-0003.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Memorandum in Support of Defendants' Motion to Dismiss 03/01/2010
PC-VA-0015-0002.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Plaintiffs' Memorandum in Opposition to Motion to Dismiss 03/15/2010
PC-VA-0015-0004.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Memorandum Opinion 10/25/2010 (2010 WL 4279403) (E.D. Va.)
PC-VA-0015-0001.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Memorandum in Support of Plaintiffs' Motion to Alter or Amend Judgment Pursuant to Rule 59(e) 11/22/2010
PC-VA-0015-0005.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Memorandum in Support of Defendants' Motion in Opposition to Plaintiffs' Motion to Alter or Amend Judgment Pursuant to Rule 59(e) 12/07/2010
PC-VA-0015-0006.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Memorandum Opinion 03/01/2011 (2011 WL 796739) (E.D. Va.)
PC-VA-0015-0007.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judges Payne, Robert E. (E.D. Va.)
PC-VA-0015-0001 | PC-VA-0015-0007 | PC-VA-0015-9000
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers Angle, Robert Armistead (Virginia)
PC-VA-0015-0004 | PC-VA-0015-0005 | PC-VA-0015-9000
Gulotta, Alex Ross (Virginia)
PC-VA-0015-0003 | PC-VA-0015-0004 | PC-VA-0015-9000
Luck, Robert M. (Virginia)
PC-VA-0015-0004 | PC-VA-0015-0005
Marshall, Gail Starling (Virginia)
PC-VA-0015-9000
Northup, Stephen Atherton (Virginia)
PC-VA-0015-0003 | PC-VA-0015-0004 | PC-VA-0015-0005 | PC-VA-0015-9000
Richardson, William Rowland Jr. (Virginia)
PC-VA-0015-0003 | PC-VA-0015-0004 | PC-VA-0015-0005 | PC-VA-0015-9000
Turner, Abigail (Virginia)
PC-VA-0015-0004 | PC-VA-0015-0005 | PC-VA-0015-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Vorhis, Richard Carson (Virginia)
PC-VA-0015-0002 | PC-VA-0015-0006 | PC-VA-0015-9000
Other Lawyers None on record

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