Judge Restores California Parolee Rights


A federal judge invalidated parts of a ballot measure voters approved last year that deal with California’s parole revocation system, reports the Sacramento Bee. U.S. District Judge Lawrence Karlton ruled the provisions must give way to a permanent injunction agreed to by the state as part of a 15-year-old class action lawsuit on behalf of parolees. Proposition 9 would severely restrict a parolee’s right to counsel and eliminate entirely the state’s obligation to furnish lawyers for non-indigent parolees. The injunction mandates when the state must provide a lawyer for all parolees.

Proposition 9 would narrow rights set out in the injunction that pertain to a parolee’s use of evidence, including hearsay, and to the confrontation of adverse witnesses. It would impair the injunction’s provision for diversion programs as alternatives to sending people back to jail. In the parolees’ 1994 lawsuit, Karlton found the state’s existing procedures were in violation of the 14th Amendment’s due process guarantee. His resulting permanent injunction was ratified by the state and is legally construed as a consent decree.

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