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Supreme Court of California

In re Lawrence, S154018

The California Supreme Court rules that, because the core statutory determination entrusted to the Board of Parole Hearings and the governor is whether an inmate poses a current threat to public safety for purposes of suitability for parole, the standard of review of such decisions is properly characterized as whether "some evidence" supports a conclusion that the inmate is unsuitable for parole because he or she currently is dangerous. Moreover, with regard to the aggravated circumstances of a commitment offense, to the extent certain decisions have been read to imply that a particularly egregious commitment offense will always provide the requisite modicum of evidence supporting the Board's or governor's decision, this assumption is inconsistent with the statutory mandate that the Board and the governor consider all relevant statutory factors when evaluating an inmate's suitability for parole, and inconsistent with the inmate's due process liberty interest in parole.

Appellate Information

  • Decided 08/22/2008
  • Published 08/22/2008


  • GEORGE, C.J.


  • Supreme Court of California


  • For Appellant:
  • Carrie L. Hempel,Michael J. Brennan and Heidi L. Rummel, Los Angeles, for Petitioner Sandra Davis Lawrence., Munger, Tolles & Olson, Blanca F. Young, San Francisco, and Hailyn J. Chen, Los Angeles, for Stanford Criminal Justice Center as Amicus Curiae on behalf of Petitioner Sandra Davis Lawrence., Sean Kennedy, Federal Defender (Central District), Daniel Broderick, Federal Defender (Eastern District) and Monica Knox, Assistant Federal Defender, as Amici Curiae on behalf of Petitioner Sandra Davis Lawrence.

  • For Appellees:
  • Bill Lockyer and Edmund G. Brown, Jr., Attorneys General, Mary Jo Graves and Dane R. Gillette, Chief Assistant Attorneys General, Julie L. Garland, Assistant Attorney General, J. Conrad Schroeder, Jennifer A. Neill, Gregory J. Marcot and Anya M. Binsacca, Deputy Attorneys General, for Respondent State of California., John R. Poyner, District Attorney (Colusa);  Bonnie M. Dumanis, District Attorney (San Diego);  Albert C. Locher, Assistant District Attorney (Sacramento);  Richard J. Sachs, Deputy District Attorney (San Diego);  and W. Scott Thorpe for California District Attorneys Association as Amicus Curiae on behalf of Respondent State of California.
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