Federal appeals court upholds Proposition 9

Posted on March 25, 2010. Filed under: Courts, Crime Victims, Parole, The Law, Victims Rights |

Capitol Alert – Sacramento Bee

March 25, 2010

A three-judge federal appellate panel today overturned Sacramento federal Judge Lawrence Karlton and reinstated the tough parole revocation procedures adopted by California voters two years ago in Proposition 9.

The measure, sponsored by state Sen. George Runner and a coalition of tough-on-crime groups, had been challenged by criminal defense groups, saying it “purports to eliminate nearly all due process rights of parolees and directly conflicts with the protections put in place by the injunction and established constitutional law.”

Karlton declared that Proposition 9 conflicted with a permanent injunction agreed to by the state as part of a 15-year-old class action lawsuit on behalf of parolees and issued an injunction against the measure’s application of the tougher procedures.

Attorney General Jerry Brown, now a Democratic candidate for governor, appealed Karlton’s ruling with support from Proposition 9’s backers, particularly the Sacramento-based Criminal Justice Legal Foundation.

Today, the 9th District Court of Appeal decision by Judges Michael Hawkins and Milan Smith Jr., with partial dissent from Judge John Noonan, said Karlton erred. Their decision was filed just two days short of one year since Karlton’s decree.

“Because the district court made no express determination that any aspect of the California parole revocation procedures, as modified by Proposition 9, violated constitutional rights, or that the injunction was necessary to remedy a constitutional violation, we vacate and remand the March 2009 order for the district court to make that determination and reconcile the injunction with California law as expressed in Proposition 9,” the decision, authored by Hawkins, said.

“Today’s decision makes it clear that a judge’s order to grant more rights to parolees than constitutionally required does not trump a state constitutional amendment adopted by the people,” said the Criminal Justice Legal Foundation’s legal director, Kent Scheidegger.

The full appellate ruling can be found here.


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