Brooks v. Board of Pardons

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Brooks v. Board of Pardons Case No. 20010502-CA



Vear Brooks,
Petitioner and Appellant,


Utah Board of Pardons and Parole,
Respondent and Appellee.

(Not For Official Publication)

Case No. 20010502-CA

(December 20, 2001)

2001 UT App 407



Third District, Salt Lake Department
The Honorable David S. Young

Vear Brooks, Gunnison, Appellant Pro Se-----

Before Judges Greenwood, Billings, and Davis.


Appellant Vear Brooks appeals the dismissal of his petition for extraordinary relief as frivolous on its face. This case is before the court on a sua sponte motion for summary disposition.

An appellate court reviewing the dismissal of a habeas corpus petition accords "no deference to the [district court's] conclusions of law that underlie the dismissal" and reviews them for correctness. Padilla v. Utah Bd. of Pardons & Parole, 947 P.2d 664, 667 (Utah 1997).

Brooks claims that the Board unconstitutionally exercised a judicial function by "sentencing" him to prison after it revoked his parole. His reliance upon Salt Lake City v. Ohms, 881 P.2d 844 (Utah 1994), and State v. Thomas, 961 P.2d 299 (Utah 1998), is misplaced. Those cases held that court commissioners cannot exercise core judicial functions including entering final judgments, imposing sentences, or issuing search warrants. See Thomas, 961 P.2d at 305; Ohms, 881 P.2d at 855. However, the Utah Supreme Court held in Padilla that "the Board's exercise of its parole power in setting determinate parole dates does not violate the separation of powers doctrine of Article V, Section 1 of the Utah Constitution." 947 P.2d at 664. The court further held that the Board does not exercise a sentencing function in its parole determinations, but "merely exercises its constitutional authority to commute or terminate an indeterminate sentence that, but for the Board's discretion, would run until the maximum period is reached." Id.

Brooks's allegation that aspects of the Board's process denied him due process is also facially deficient. It is within the Board's statutory authority to issue warrants for the arrest of parolees, to detain a parolee pending a hearing, to conduct a hearing on the alleged violation through a hearing examiner, and to imprison a parolee or to reinstate parole, in the Board's discretion. See Utah Code Ann. § 77-26-1 (1999). The actions of the Board alleged in the petition fall within this statutory authority. Finally, to the extent that Brooks challenges the merits of the Board's decision to revoke parole, the decision is not subject to judicial review. See Padilla, 147 P.2d at 667; see also Utah Code Ann. § 77-27-5 (1999) ("Decisions of the board in cases involving parolees . . . are final and are not subject to judicial review.").

Under the circumstances, the district court did not err in dismissing the petition as frivolous on its face. We affirm the dismissal of the petition.

Pamela T. Greenwood, Presiding Judge

Judith M. Billings, Judge

James Z. Davis, Judge