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Darryl Conquest v. New Jersey State Parole Board

December 26, 2012

DARRYL CONQUEST, 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NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION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 7, 2012

Before Judges Alvarez and Waugh.

Darryl Conquest appeals from the March 30, 2011 final decision of the New Jersey State Parole Board (Board) affirming the three-member panel's denial of his parole application.*fn1 On June 1, 1976, Conquest was imprisoned on consecutive life terms for two murders, N.J.S.A. 2A:113-1, as well as an additional twenty-three to twenty-seven years on other charges.

Conquest became eligible for parole on a second occasion on May 26, 2009, having served approximately thirty-three years and seven months of his sentence. The hearing officer referred the matter to a two-member Board panel pursuant to N.J.A.C. 10A:71-3.15(b).*fn2 The panel denied Conquest parole after determining that:

[c]ompletion of numerous programs has not helped to develop any insight or understanding of his criminal thinking. Attempts to portray himself as the non-participant defendant, yet it was his plan. He had the knife, but claimed he went to the door first, therefore he couldn't have the knife when he entered. He repeatedly avoided all behavioral questions with vague or no answers. He claims to have no knowledge of why he has been in [management control unit (MCU)] so long or why he was placed there.

The panel acknowledged the mitigating factors, including Conquest's participation in institutional programs, his average to above-average institutional reports, the absence of institutional infractions since 1998, and his attempts to enroll in additional programs.

When the two-member panel denied release on September 2, 2009, the matter was referred to a third Board member. On March 17, 2010, the three-member panel denied parole for essentially the same reasons expressed by the two-member panel. The reasons included Conquest's prior criminal juvenile history. Additionally, the three-member panel noted that Conquest's criminal convictions became "increasingly more serious," while opportunities in the community, such as juvenile probation or adult parole, did not deter him from subsequent criminal behavior.

The three-member panel further observed that Conquest minimized his involvement in the murders and blamed others for his "life long history of violent and maladaptive behavior." The three-member panel also relied upon a confidential document in reaching their decision.

Conquest appealed to the full Board, which affirmed the three-member panel decision on March 30, 2011. That final agency decision, similar to earlier decisions in the matter, acknowledged the mitigating factors, and addressed Conquest's contentions that the three-member panel misinterpreted the circumstances of the murders as an attempt to minimize his conduct and abused its discretion by establishing a lengthy future eligibility term despite the mitigating factors.

On appeal, Conquest raises the following remaining points of error:

POINT ONE*fn3

THE RESPONDENT ARBITRARILY DENIED APPELLANT PAROLE BECAUSE IT FAILED TO CONSIDER RELEVANT, EMPIRICAL EVIDENCE THAT HE HAS REHABILITATED HIMSELF. THAT HE HAS BEEN INSTITUTIONAL CHARGE FROM FOR [SIC] 14 YEARS THIS IN VIOLATION OF THE LEGISLATIVE INTENT OF N.J.S.A. 30:4-123.53[a] AND 55c; THE DUE PROCESS CLAUSE OF THE FOURTEENTH AMENDMENT OF THE UNITED STATES CONSTITUTION AND ...


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