California Supreme Court Frees Lifer Where They Was No Valid Reason for Governor to Veto Parole

The Post-Conviction Justice Project at USC Law recently prevailed in a defining case for the California parole system for long-time client Sandra Davis-Lawrence The students argued and the California Supreme Court agreed -- that a life-term prisoner is entitled to be granted parole once the prisoner no longer poses a danger to the community. The court rejected the governor’s reversal of the parole commission’s grant of parole based solely on the circumstances of Sandra Davis-Lawrence’s 1971 commitment offense (first-degree murder), holding that the reversal violated her due process rights. The 4 to 3 ruling provides meaningful judicial review of parole decisions by the Board of Parole Hearings and the governor, and could affect nearly 1,000 parole cases now on appeal. Lawyers on both sides said it was the first time in recent history that the state’s highest court has ruled in favor of a prisoner in a parole case.