Hank Morris, the imprisoned former political advisor to ex-Comptroller Alan Hevesi, has brought a legal challenge against the state Parole Board, claiming officials do not follow proper procedure.
At the heart of his challenge is that the NYS Department of Corrections and Community Supervision and the Board of Parole are violating New York law and its Constitution with impunity by conducting unlawful parole hearings that do not comply with statutory amendments that took effect on October 1, 2011.
These new laws mandate that written risk assessment procedures should be developed and utilized when making parole determinations, and that a transition accountability plan (TAP) should be developed for each inmate to be utilized when making parole determinations.
State Supreme Court Justice Richard Mott has ordered the state's parole board to swiftly grant Hank Morris a new parole hearing, finding the board "inexplicably" failed to fairly consider several factors in Morris's favor, including its own internal evaluation which indicates that Morris is no threat to society, and unjustly manipulated the process to keep him in prison for as long as possible. "Specifically, the record demonstrates that the board inexplicably failed to consider and weigh myriad relevant factors, all of which categorically supported petitioner's release on parole."
"Put simply, the amended statute required that respondent develop written procedures that implement risk and needs principles, determine the likelihood of an inmate's success upon release, and adopt those procedures as an exercise of its rule-making power," Mott stated. "Disregard of a legislative mandate through an administrative agency's inaction as here, is arbitrary and capricious."
The outcome of this case may affect as many as 15,000 inmates who have appeared before the board since the amendments to the legislation in 2011.
Morris's new parole hearing will take place on April 22.
Matter of Morris v New York State Dept. of Corr.and Community Supervision 2013 NY Slip Op 50604(U) (Decided on April 15, 2013)
Matter of Morris v New York State Dept. of Corr.and Community Supervision 2013 NY Slip Op 50603(U) (Decided on April 4 2013)
Parole Board Grants New Interview to Morris, by John Caher (New York Law Journal, 22 April 2013)
Parole board that thinks it's judge and jury, by Chris Churchill (Timesunion.com, April 20 2013)
For a Political Devil, Some Sympathy Please, by Jim Dwyer (New York Times, April 18 2013)
Judge Blasts Parole 'Machinations' to Delay Political Consultant's Release, by John Caher (New York Law Journal, April 18 2013)
Judge Says Parole Board Maneuvered to Keep Morris in Jail, by John Caher (New York Law Journal, April 17 2013)
Judge orders new NY parole hearing for Hank Morris (Wall Street Journal, April 15 2013)
Judge Orders New Parole Hearing for Hank Morris, by John Caher (New York Law Journal, April 15 2013)
State Supports Denial of Parole for Hank Morris, by John Caher (New York Law Journal, April 12 2013)
Hearing Set to Consider Parole Compliance With Law, by John Caher (New York Law Journal, April 8 2013)
Judge Won't Toss Morris Legal Challenge, by Nick Reisman (Capital Tonight, April 5 2013)
Parole Denied, Disgraced Political Guru Hank Morris Files Suit, by Nick Reisman (Capital Tonight, March 7 2013)
Hank Morris Denied Release by the Board of Parole (NYS DOCCS, November 15, 2012)
Alan Hevesi Granted Release by the Board of Parole (NYS DOCCS, November 15, 2012)