Case: Hawkins v. New York State Dept. of Corrections & Community Supervision

No. 0011–15 | New York state trial court

Filed Date: 2015

Closed Date: 2016

Clearinghouse coding complete

Case Summary

This is a case about whether a parole board properly denied parole to an individual who was convicted as a juvenile and sentenced in New York to a term of 22-years-to-life. At the time of the hearing at Mt. McGregor Correctional Facility on March 26, 2014, the petitioner and prospective parolee was 54 years old and had served 36 years of his sentence at the time of his last parole interview (14 years beyond his minimum sentence). Since the year 2000, he had been denied parole release nine times…

This is a case about whether a parole board properly denied parole to an individual who was convicted as a juvenile and sentenced in New York to a term of 22-years-to-life. At the time of the hearing at Mt. McGregor Correctional Facility on March 26, 2014, the petitioner and prospective parolee was 54 years old and had served 36 years of his sentence at the time of his last parole interview (14 years beyond his minimum sentence). Since the year 2000, he had been denied parole release nine times. In the proceeding at issue, the board denied parole release and imposed a 24–month hold. Petitioner timely filed a notice of administrative appeal and then a petition for Article 78 review in state court.  Petitioner argued that the board's decision focused exclusively on the instant offense, and ignored petitioner's overall excellent disciplinary record, institutional achievements, support for release, plans for release, and final order for deportation, rendering the decision to deny parole arbitrary and capricious. Petitioner further contended that the Commissioners were misinformed and argumentative, that they ignored his youth at the time of the crime, and that they violated their own rules when considering parole. Petitioner sought immediate release or a de novo parole hearing.  Agreeing with Petitioner, the state trial court held on May 11, 2015, that Petitioner was entitled to de novo parole review, reasoning that the Board's decision was "clearly based on personal opinions and the instant offense, and completely unsupported by the record and Petitioner's history of incarceration." 51 Misc.3d 1218(A). 

On appeal, in a decision issued on April 28, 2016, the appellate court affirmed relief. It held that a person serving a sentence for a crime committed as a juvenile had a substantive constitutional right not to serve a life sentence if the crime reflected transient immaturity, and that Petitioner was denied his constitutional right to a meaningful opportunity for release because the Board failed to consider his youth and its attendant circumstances.  The court reasoned that because the Board was the entity ultimately tasked with determining whether Petitioner would serve a life sentence, it was required to give adequate consideration to his youth.  Because neither the hearing transcript nor the Board's written decision reflected such consideration, the Board had not afforded Petitioner the requisite meaningful opportunity for release.  The court therefore affirmed the trial court's decision that Petitioner was entitled to a de novo parole release hearing (but determined that the trial court erred in precluding one of the Board's commissioners from participating in future parole review). 140 A.D.3d 34.  

Summary Authors

Hannah Shilling (11/21/2021)

Tessa Bialek (7/11/2023)

People


Judge(s)

LaBuda, Frank J. (New York)

Attorney for Plaintiff

Kohler-Hausmann, Issa (New York)

Seeds, Christopher (New York)

Attorney for Defendant

Rodriguez, Leilani (New York)

show all people

Documents in the Clearinghouse

Document

No. 0011–15

Opinion

Hawkins v. New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision

May 11, 2015

May 11, 2015

Order/Opinion

51 Misc.3d 51

No. 521536

Opinion of the Court

Matter of Hawkins v. New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision

New York state appellate court

April 28, 2016

April 28, 2016

Order/Opinion

140 A.D.3d 140

Docket

Last updated Aug. 30, 2023, 2:26 p.m.

Docket sheet not available via the Clearinghouse.

Case Details

State / Territory: New York

Case Type(s):

Criminal Justice (Other)

Special Collection(s):

Juvenile Parole

Key Dates

Filing Date: 2015

Closing Date: 2016

Case Ongoing: No reason to think so

Plaintiffs

Plaintiff Description:

Incarcerated individual seeking immediate release to parole or a de novo parole hearing after serving 36 years of his juvenile sentence

Public Interest Lawyer: Yes

Filed Pro Se: No

Class Action Sought: No

Class Action Outcome: Not sought

Defendants

New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision, State

New York State Board of Parole, State

Case Details

Causes of Action:

State law

Constitutional Clause(s):

Cruel and Unusual Punishment

Available Documents:

Injunctive (or Injunctive-like) Relief

Any published opinion

Outcome

Prevailing Party: Plaintiff

Nature of Relief:

Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement

Source of Relief:

Litigation

Issues

General/Misc.:

Juveniles

Parole grant/revocation