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Harvey Colvin v. New Jersey State Parole Board

August 20, 2012

HARVEY COLVIN, 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NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION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 August 13, 2012

Before Judges Ashrafi and Hayden.

Inmate Harvey Colvin, who is serving a sentence for aggravated manslaughter and other charges, appeals from the May 25, 2011 final decision of the New Jersey State Parole Board denying him parole and confirming a 120-month future eligibility term (FET) for parole. We affirm.

The conviction for which Colvin is serving a sentence of fifty years imprisonment arose from the killing of his pregnant girlfriend in 1993. Colvin was living with a different woman and their child at the same time that he was dating the victim. When the victim told Colvin she was pregnant with his child, he became upset and wanted her to get an abortion. She refused. They argued while Colvin was driving her car and, according to police investigative reports, he struck her in the head with a blunt object and pushed her out of the car. He then drove the car over her and dragged her some fifty feet underneath the car before it came to a stop.

After the victim was killed, Colvin enlisted the help of a friend to bury her body in a secluded place. The friend participated in the plan for a while but then had misgivings and went to the police two days later. Colvin had paid the friend $100 to conceal the crime, but the friend revealed Colvin's involvement to the police. When Colvin was interviewed by the police, he gave a false statement, which included a false alibi. He had also paid another person to lie to the police to support his alibi.

After being charged, Colvin claimed that the victim died after he accidentally backed over her following an argument. His version was contradicted by physical evidence, including front-end damage to the car and blood stains on the front bumper.

Upon being indicted for murder, kidnapping, witness tampering, and hindering apprehension, Colvin negotiated a plea agreement and pleaded guilty to aggravated manslaughter and several additional charges. On December 22, 1994, he was sentenced to an aggregate prison term of fifty years with fifteen years of parole ineligibility.

A two-member panel of the Parole Board denied Colvin's first opportunity for parole on May 12, 2008, and the panel set an FET of thirty-six months. At his next parole hearing on May 18, 2010, a two-member panel again denied parole and this time referred the matter to a three-member panel of the Board to set an FET. See N.J.A.C. 10A:71-3.21(d)(1). On July 14, 2010, the three-member panel issued its notice of decision setting a 120-month FET. Colvin filed an administrative appeal to the full Parole Board. On December 8, 2010, the three-member panel issued a written decision explaining its reasons for imposing the 120-month FET. On May 25, 2011, the full Board denied Colvin's appeal by written decision. This appeal followed.

Before us, Colvin argues:

THE DECISION BY THE PAROLE BOARD TO DENY APPELLANT PAROLE AND TO IMPOSE AN EXTENDED, ONE-HUNDRED-TWENTY (120) MONTH FUTURE ELIGIBILITY TERM IS ARBITRARY, CAPRICIOUS AND MUST BE REVERSED.

Our standard of review of administrative decisions of the Parole Board is limited, and it is "grounded in strong public policy concerns and practical realities." Trantino v. N.J. State Parole Bd. (Trantino V), 166 N.J. 113, 200 (2001). "The decision of a parole board involves 'discretionary assessment[s] of a multiplicity of imponderables . . . .'" Id. at 201 (quoting Greenholtz v. Inmates of Neb. Penal & Corr. Complex, 442 U.S. 1, 10, 99 S. Ct. 2100, 2105, 60 L. Ed. 2d 668, 677 (1979)). "To a greater degree than is the case with other administrative agencies, the Parole Board's decision-making function involves individualized discretionary appraisals." Ibid. (citing Beckworth v. N.J. State Parole Bd., 62 N.J. 348, 358-59, certif. denied, 63 N.J. 583 (1973)). Consequently, we may reverse the Parole Board's decision only if it is "arbitrary and capricious." Ibid. We do not disturb the Board's factual findings if they "'could reasonably have been reached on sufficient credible evidence in the whole record.'" Id. at 172 (quoting Trantino v. N.J. State Parole Bd. (Trantino IV), 154 N.J. 19, 24 (1998)).

Applying that deferential standard of review, we find no basis to disturb the Board's decision in this case. First, we address without extensive discussion the denial of parole. R. 2:11-3(e)(1)(d), -3(e)(2). The Board's decision to deny parole was not arbitrary and capricious and was supported by ample evidence, including that Colvin is serving consecutive sentences for several crimes, he had been found guilty of institutional infractions, he exhibited insufficient problem resolution and lacked insight into his criminal behavior, he ...


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