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Michael L. Sutton v. New Jersey State Parole Board

February 16, 2012

MICHAEL L. SUTTON, APPELLANT,
v.
NEW JERSEY STATE PAROLE BOARD, RESPONDENT.



On appeal from the New Jersey State Parole Board.

Per curiam.

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

Submitted November 30, 2011

Before Judges Sapp-Peterson and Ostrer.

Appellant, Michael Sutton, appeals from a January 27, 2010 final agency decision of the Parole Board (Board) that denied his application for parole and established a future eligibility term (FET) of eighty-four months. We affirm.

Appellant is serving a life term for a murder committed in 1978. Although during his more than thirty years of incarceration appellant has committed prison disciplinary infractions, he has been infraction-free since 1998. This most recent consideration of appellant's parole eligibility marks the fourth time appellant has become eligible for parole since 1995.

On October 22, 2008, the full Board gave the following reasons for denying appellant's application for parole: (1) extensive prior criminal history; (2) nature of criminal record became increasingly more serious; (3) prior opportunities on parole failed to deter future criminal behavior; (4) prior incarcerations did not deter criminal behavior; and (5) insufficient problem resolution, specifically a lack of insight into criminal behavior as demonstrated by appellant's panel interview, documentation in appellant's case file, and confidential material upon which the Board relied. However, the Board also noted certain mitigating factors applicable to consideration of appellant's release on parole, including: (1) appellant had been infraction-free since 1998; (2) participated in institutional programs specific to behavior; (3) although he had not been accepted, appellant nonetheless had attempted to enroll and participate in programs specific to his behavior; and (4) had activated and maintained "Gang Minimum" housing status. The present appeal ensued.

On appeal, appellant raises the following points for our consideration:

[POINT I]

THE BOARD FAILED TO DEMONSTRATE BY A PREPONDERANCE OF THE EVIDENCE IN THE WHOLE RECORD THAT [APPELLANT]'S LACK OF SUFFICIENT INSIGHT INTO HIS CRIMINAL BEHAVIOR TRANSLATED INTO LIKELY RECIDIVISM.

[POINT II]

THE BOARD ARBITRARILY DENIED [APPELLANT] PAROLE BASE[D] ON INFORMATION NOT CONTAINED IN THE RECORD [N.J.S.A. 30:4-123.17, 18].

[POINT III]

THE BOARD ARBITRARILY SET A FUTURE ELIGIBILITY TERM OF EIGHTY[-]FOUR MONTHS ...


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