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Watley v. New Jersey State Parole Board

June 25, 2008

LOUIS WATLEY, APPELLANT,
v.
NEW JERSEY STATE PAROLE BOARD, RESPONDENT.



On appeal from a Final Decision of the State Parole Board.

Per curiam.

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

Submitted June 3, 2008

Before Judges Chambers and Waugh.

Appellant Louis Watley appeals from the denial of his application for parole by respondent New Jersey Parole Board. Having reviewed the entire record, we are unable to determine whether there is support for the Board's stated reason for denial of parole, namely, that there is a substantial likelihood that Watley will commit another crime if released on parole. Consequently, we vacate the Board's decision and remand the matter to the Board for further consideration in light of this opinion.

The events that led to Watley's conviction and incarceration took place over several days in April 1997. They involved the aggravated sexual assault of an eighteen-year-old female employee of Watley's accounting and travel business. She was sexually assaulted at the place of business and then forced to accompany Watley to his home where she was sexually assaulted again. Watley threatened to kill the victim several times if she disclosed what happened.

On October 6, 2001, a jury convicted Watley on one count each of criminal sexual contact, N.J.S.A. 2C:14-3(b); kidnapping; N.J.S.A. 2C:13-1(b); aggravated sexual assault, N.J.S.A. 2C:14-2a(3); and terroristic threats, N.J.S.A. 2C:12-3(b). He was acquitted on one count of sexual assault, N.J.S.A. 2C:14-2c(1); and one count of criminal sexual contact, N.J.S.A. 2C:14-3(b).

Pursuant to N.J.S.A. 2C:47-1, Watley was evaluated to determine whether he should be sentenced to the Adult Diagnostic and Treatment Center in Avenel. According to the judgment of conviction, the Avenel report concluded that Watley was in "excessive denial," "defensive" and a "dramatic, attention seeking individual whose uninhibited social behavior may feel overbearing to others." He was found not to meet the criteria for classification as a "repetitive and compulsive sex offender," but it was noted that "he ha[d] hedonistic exploitation, power and control issues and aggression," and that "situational factors may control his sexual behavior."

Watley had a relatively minor prior record at the time the current offenses were committed. During 1966, he was convicted twice in municipal court, receiving a sixty day county jail sentence on intimidation charges and then one year probation for possession of a weapon. In 1968, he was convicted in municipal court and fined for shoplifting. He was acquitted after two jury trials on two more serious offenses; one in 1972 for rape and another in 1987 for sexual assault.

On March 9, 2001, Watley was sentenced to 18 years in state prison on the aggravated sexual assault and shorter concurrent terms on the other charges. He was given credit for 158 days of confinement prior to sentencing.

Watley first became eligible for parole on November 26, 2004. He was denied parole at that time and given a twenty-seven-months future eligibility term (FET). This Court affirmed on appeal. Watley v. New Jersey State Parole Board, No. A-4558-04 (App. Div. Jan. 13, 2006).

A two-member panel of the Parole Board held a hearing on Watley's second application for parole in May 2006. After listening to Watley and asking him questions, the members of the panel deliberated and announced their decision to deny parole. Their reasons were stated on the record as follows:

Sir, we have deliberated. And we're denying you parole at this time. We're giving you an 18-month hit, which is the lowest we can go under the statute. But we want you to take anger management, and maybe take some more counseling, and - and focus, if you can, on the victim. And you haven't focused on the victim at all in your - in your interview. And there is a - it's a serious thing that happened to this young woman.

Sir, you'll receive the paperwork in the mail along with the - the reasons for our denial, and an appeal form you can use, if ...


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