Judge Assails TX Parole Officials, Voids Damage Verdict


A federal judge overturned personal damages of $21,250 that a jury imposed on Texas’ parole board but did not change the finding that officials violated a paroled convict’s constitutional rights by denying him a required hearing for 576 days, the Austin American-Statesman reports. U.S. District Judge Sam Sparks harshly criticized officials for the way they classify parolees as sex offenders, including many who have never been convicted of a sex crime.

The decision absolves Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles Chairwoman Rissie Owens of personal liability in actions against Ray Curtis Graham still leaves state taxpayers liable for paying Graham’s legal fees, estimated at more than $100,000. Sparks said Owens has been aware of problems in the parole system but did nothing until the court ordered her to do so. “Her inattention is mystifying, and it shows her to be some combination [] of ‘indecisive, insensitive, inattentive, incompetent, stupid, (or) weak-kneed,’ ” Sparks wrote, quoting from another court decision in a related case.

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