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Simmons v. New Jersey State Parole Board

SUPERIOR COURT OF NEW JERSEY APPELLATE DIVISION


February 22, 2008

RUFUS SIMMONS, APPELLANT,
v.
NEW JERSEY STATE PAROLE BOARD, RESPONDENT.

On appeal from a final decision of the New Jersey State Parole Board.

Per curiam.

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

Submitted February 4, 2008

Before Judges C.S. Fisher and C.L. Miniman.

Appellant is an inmate at the South Woods State Prison in Bridgeton where, in 2002, he began serving a sixteen-year prison term for aggravated sexual assault, sexual assault and endangering the welfare of a child.

Appellant became eligible for parole for the first time on October 3, 2006. A two-member panel denied parole and imposed a thirty-six month future eligibility term (FET). The panel considered: appellant's prior criminal record; the fact that he had previously violated probation and, thus, the opportunity provided by probation had failed to deter his criminal behavior; and appellant's lack of insight into his criminal behavior, which was revealed by both his attempts to minimize his prior behavior and his claim that the charges were fabricated. In mitigation, the panel considered appellant's minimal institutional disciplinary history, the fact that he had achieved minimum custody status and the circumstances revealed by a risk assessment evaluation.

The panel's denial of parole and imposition of a thirty-six month FET was affirmed by the full Board. Appellant appealed this final agency decision to this court. We discern from his pro se brief that appellant claims the record fails to support the Board's determination. And he appears to argue that there were extenuating circumstances regarding the probation violation, which formed part of the basis for the two-member panel's decision.

After carefully reviewing the record on appeal, we find that the Board's decision was supported by sufficient credible evidence on the record as a whole and that there is insufficient merit in appellant's arguments to warrant discussion in a written opinion. R. 2:11-3(e)(1)(D) and (E). We observe only that the Board's decisions are highly individualized appraisals, and should be reversed only if arbitrary or capricious, Hare v. New Jersey State Parole Board, 368 N.J. Super. 175, 179-80 (App. Div.), certif. denied, 180 N.J. 452 (2004), and that the record amply supported the conclusions drawn by the Board. Accordingly, we have no basis for second-guessing the Board's decision.

Affirmed.

20080222

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