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Gomez v. New Jersey State Parole Board

Superior Court of New Jersey, Appellate Division

August 21, 2013

HECTOR GOMEZ, Appellant,
v.
NEW JERSEY STATE PAROLE BOARD, Respondent

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

Submitted August 13, 2013

On appeal from the New Jersey State Parole Board.

Hector Gomez, appellant pro se.

John J. Hoffman, Acting Attorney General, attorney for respondent (Lewis A.

Scheindlin, Assistant Attorney General, of counsel; Shirley P. Dickstein, Deputy Attorney General, on the brief).

Before Judges Lihotz and Guadagno.

PER CURIAM

Hector Gomez appeals from the January 25, 2012 final agency decision of the New Jersey State Parole Board (Board), affirming the denial of parole by the Parole Board Panel (Panel). We affirm.

In 1991, Gomez was convicted in Pennsylvania of possession with intent to distribute controlled dangerous substances and conspiracy. He was sentenced to a term of four to eight years and was paroled in 1994. In 2009, defendant pled guilty pursuant to a plea agreement to first degree manufacturing, distributing and dispensing controlled dangerous substances. N.J.S.A. 2C:35-5(b)(1) and 5(a)(1). He was sentenced as a second-degree offender to a nine-year prison term with a thirty-six month parole disqualifier.

In 2011, Gomez received an initial parole hearing before a hearing officer, who referred the matter to the Panel. After a hearing, the Panel denied parole and established a fourteen-month future eligibility term (FET). Gomez appealed to the full Board who affirmed the Panel's decision.

On appeal, Gomez raises only one issue:

PAROLE BOARD WRONGFULLY CONCLUDED THAT I LACKED INSIGHT INTO CRIMINAL BEHAVIOR AND MINIMIZED MY CONDUCT WHEN THE RECORD OF INCARCERATION PROVES OTHERWISE.

The scope of our review of administrative decisions of the Board is very limited, and "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)). We do not disturb the factual findings of the Board if they "'could reasonably have been reached on sufficient credible evidence in the whole record.'" Id . at 172 (quoting Trantino v. New Jersey State Parole Bd. (Trantino IV), 154 N.J. 19, 24 (1998)); see also, McGowan v. N.J. State Parole Bd., 347 N.J.Super. 544, 563 (App. Div. 2002) (noting "[a]dministrative actions, such as parole decisions, must be upheld where the findings could reasonably have been reached on the credible evidence in the record"). Further, we remain mindful that "[t]o a greater degree than is the case with other administrative agencies, the Parole Board's decision-making function involves individualized discretionary appraisals." Trantino V, supra, 166 N.J. at 201 (citation omitted). We will not second-guess the Parole Board's application of its considerable expertise in ...


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