Appeal of the Michigan Parole Board

A Defendant does not have the ability to appeal his or her denial of parole under the laws of the State of Michigan at the time of this blog.  However, either the Prosecutor or the victim of an offense may appeal in the Circuit Court where the conviction that lead to the prison sentence occurred when the Board grants a prisoner parole. MCL 791.234(11); Morales v Parole Bd, 260 Mich App 29, 35; 676 NW2d 221 (2003).

If the Prosecutor does not elect to challenge the granting of parole, the victim is free to hire a lawyer to challenge the decision of the Michigan Parole Board.  The Prosecutor and/or victim has the burden of proof when it comes to reversing a decision of the Michigan Parole Board to allow an inmate to be placed on parole.  Under MCR 7.118(H)(3), the challenging party has the burden to show either that the Michigan Parole Board’s decision was “a clear abuse of discretion” or was “in violation of the Michigan Constitution, a statute, an administrative rule, or a written agency regulation.” An abuse of discretion occurs when the trial court’s decision falls outside the range of reasonable and principled outcomes. People v Babcock, 469 Mich 247, 269; 666 NW2d 231 (2003).

A reviewing court (the Circuit Court, the Michigan Court of Appeals, or the Michigan Supreme Court) may not substitute its judgment for that of the Michigan Parole Board. Morales, 260 Mich App at 48. [In re Parole of Elias, 294 Mich App 507, 538; 811 NW2d 541 (2011) (footnote omitted.)]  A Judge cannot reverse the decision of the Michigan Parole Board simply because he or she does not agree with the decision.  However, the parole board’s discretion to grant an inmate parole is limited by statutory requirements and parole guidelines. Killebrew v Dep’t of Corrections, 237 Mich App 650, 652-653; 604 NW2d 696 (1999).

MCL 791.233 governs the granting of parole and provides, in relevant part:

(1) The grant of a parole is subject to all of the following:

(a) A prisoner shall not be given liberty on parole until the board has reasonable assurance, after consideration of all of the facts and circumstances, including the prisoner’s mental and social attitude, that the prisoner will not become a menace to society or to the public safety.

* * *

(3) Pursuant to the administrative procedures act of 1969, 1969 PA 306, MCL 24.201 to 24.328, the parole board may promulgate rules not inconsistent with this act with respect to conditions to be imposed upon prisoners paroled under this act.

“Although agencies are authorized to interpret the statutes they are charged with administering and enforcing, agencies may not do so by promulgating rules that conflict with the statutes they purport to interpret.” Chrisdiana v Dep’t of Community Health, 278 Mich App 685, 688; 754 NW2d 533 (2008). Agency policy and rules need not reiterate or mirror the statute, but must be within the matter governed by the enabling statute, must comply with the underlying legislative intent, and must not be arbitrary and capricious. Id. at 688-689. When the board fails to comply with regulatory provisions before reaching its parole decision, an abuse of discretion occurs and reversal of the Board’s decision is warranted. In re Parole of Haeger, 294 Mich App 549, 551- 552; 813 NW2d 313 (2011). “An evaluation of the prisoner’s mental and social attitude involves a subjective determination for which the parole guidelines cannot account.” Killebrew, 237 Mich App at 655.

Hiring the right lawyer may be one of the most important decisions you make for yourself and your family. There are many lawyers who claim to do more than what they are able – just as there are many surgeons in the world that are no better than butchers. Do not settle for a legal hack job. Practicing law is a skill that develops over time with experience, commitment, dedication, and God given talent. There are no amateur attorneys at Hilf & Hilf, PLC – only professionals that are guided by the humanity in the individuals we serve, and the drive not to settle for what is easy over what is right.


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