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Mastriana v. New Jersey Parole Board

Decided: June 21, 1967.

LOUIS P. MASTRIANA, APPELLANT,
v.
NEW JERSEY PAROLE BOARD, RESPONDENT



Conford, Foley and Leonard. The opinion of the court was delivered by Leonard, J.A.D.

Leonard

This is an appeal by appellant as an indigent pursuant to R.R. 4:88-8(a) from the determination of the State Parole Board (Board) denying him a parole from his present confinement at the State Prison.

Appellant was first received at the prison on May 11, 1964 as a result of two concurrent sentences of 1-3 years imposed by the Morris County Court. On May 22, 1964 five additional sentences aggregating 3-5 years were imposed by the Passaic County Court, to run concurrently with and retroactive to the prior Morris County sentences. On October 25, 1965 two sentences of 1-1 [ sic ] year were imposed against defendant in Atlantic County, to run consecutively to each other and to all prior sentences. On March 18, 1966 an additional sentence of 1-2 years was imposed by the Union County Court, to be consecutive to all of the previously imposed sentences.

On December 21, 1965 appellant appeared before the Board and parole was denied, but appellant was advised that his case had been scheduled for another hearing in June 1967. On January 26, 1966 he filed a complaint with the Board alleging that the denial of his parole was unfair and based upon prejudice and bias, and he requested that the Board state the reason for the denial. Thereafter appellant was notified by letters from the chairman of the Board and from its counsel that "as a matter of policy" the Board does not give reasons for the denial of parole and that it is not "obligated" to do so.

Appellant filed a notice of appeal on February 28, 1966, and on March 28, 1966 the Board moved to dismiss the appeal on the ground that "the appellant has failed to state a claim upon which relief can be granted." The basis of the motion was that appellant did not set forth any acts committed by the Board which were "unfair, arbitrary, unreasonable or discriminatory; that there was no allegation of facts

to support the claim that the Board did not act within the framework of the Parole Statute (N.J.S.A. 30:4-123.1 et seq.) and that the Board was under no legal requirement to advise an inmate why parole was denied." However, by a consent order dated May 3, 1966 all "proceedings in the appeal" were stayed until further order of the court. The purpose of that order was to allow appellant to reappear before the Board for a reconsideration of his previous denial of parole, in light of his preparation of a new parole plan.

On September 27, 1966 appellant appeared before the Board. He at that time had the advice of court-assigned counsel. A hearing was held, his parole plan was reconsidered and the Board again denied parole, scheduling a rehearing in September 1967.

Thereafter appellant pursued his appeal and moved before this court for leave to inspect books, records and documents of the Board and for a more definite statement regarding the denial of his parole; made a demand for interrogatories directed to the chairman and members of the Board, and moved to add the warden of the State Prison, certain State physicians and parole officers and a designated county judge as parties defendant.

We denied the motion to add defendants and we denied appellant's other motions "without prejudice to reconsideration on argument of appeal." The Board's motion to dismiss was also denied on the same basis.

Appellant presently argues that all of his pending motions should be decided in his favor and that we should either exercise original jurisdiction and completely determine the cause or order a remand "directing that the court rules and pertinent statutes be followed and an appropriate record be submitted by respondent." He also urges denial of the Board's motion to dismiss his appeal.

In considering this matter we first note that parole is an act of leniency or grace toward a prisoner. The grant or denial of parole is a matter for the exercise of proper judgment by the ...


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