August 05, 2012

Graziano v. Pataki decision: August 3 2012

A decision in the Graziano v. Pataki class action case:

A divided panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit has held that violent felons who claim they were systematically denied parole due to an unofficial mandate of former Governor George Pataki have no avenue of relief under the U.S. Constitution.

From the court's decision (Graziano v. Pataki, No. 11-116):

"Plaintiffs - Appellants Peter Graziano, James Buckley, Mark Malone, Robert A. Harris, William Walker, Aaron Talley, Maurice Murrell, Steven Ho, and Brian Jacques (collectively, "Plaintiffs") filed this class action against Defendants - Appellees George Pataki, the Governor of the State of New York; Robert Dennison, the Chairman of the New York State Division of Parole; and the New York State Division of Parole (collectively, "Defendants") on behalf of themselves and all other New York State prisoners convicted of violent felony offenses. Plaintiffs allege that they have been denied parole as a result of an "unwritten policy" to deny parole to violent felony offenders, and that this unofficial policy violates three provisions of the federal constitution: (1) the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment; (2) the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment; and (3) the Ex Post Facto Clause. Because we conclude that Plaintiffs have failed to state a claim for violation of their rights under any of these provisions, we affirm the December 10, 2010 judgment of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York granting Defendants' motion to dismiss Plaintiffs' complaint pursuant to Rule 12(c) of the Federal Rule of Civil Procedure."

Robert Isseks, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, said he would petition for the decision to be reviewed by the full panel of circuit judges.

See the following, especially the dissenting opinion given by Stefan R. Underhill, District Judge:
Graziano v. Pataki, No. 11-116 (2d Cir. August 3 2012)
Circuit Rejects Inmates' Bid for Relief Over Alleged Parole Policy, by John Caher. (New York Law Journal, August 6 2012)
New York violent felony inmates lose parole case appeal (Reuters, New York, August 6 2012)
Graziano v. Pataki, Opinion Summary (August 3 2012)
Graziano v. Pataki, 11-116 (FindLaw, August 3 2012)
Split Second Circuit panel rejects varied constitutional attacks on NY parole practices (Sentencing Law and Policy, August 3 2012)