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Blanke v. Utah Board of Pardons & Parole

Blanke v. Utah Board of Pardons & Parole (Himonas, J.)

Criminal

The Utah Board of Pardons and Parole declined to set a parole date for a Utah prison inmate who had been convicted of attempted child kidnapping and kidnapping because he refused to participate in the prison sex offender treatment program. The inmate filed a petition for extraordinary relief, arguing that the Parole Board had violated his due process rights by conditioning his parole date on sex offender treatment even though he had not been convicted of a sex offense. The district court and court of appeals rejected his argument. The Utah Supreme Court granted certiorari and affirmed, holding:

  • The Parole Board did not violate the inmate’s right to due process by considering him to be a sex offender for the purpose of requiring sex offender treatment because the inmate had been convicted of and admitted to crimes that require registration as a sex offender, even though he had not been convicted of a crime that involved sexual activity.
  • The Parole Board was not required to apply Neese v. Utah Board of Pardons and Parole, 2017 UT 89, 416 P.3d 663, in which the Utah Supreme Court held that due process required the Parole Board to give greater protections (such as the ability to call witnesses and present evidence) to an inmate who had not been convicted of a sex offense before it could consider the inmate to be a sex offender for the purposes of requiring sex offender treatment.
  • Concurrence (Lee, J.): The concurring justice argued that Neese should be overruled.
  • In response, the majority noted that the parties had not asked the court to overrule Neese and that the majority did not doubt the continued viability of Neese. The majority also pointed out that “the concurrence has been and remains more willing than the other members of this court to uproot precedent.”

Read the full court opinion

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