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Posted by: Chandra Williams on Oct 22, 2015

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys 1:

Mark C. Scruggs, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Joseph Brennan.

Attorneys 2:

 Jim Todd, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Jessy Brennan. Herbert H. Slatery, III, Attorney General and Reporter; Andrée S. Blumstein, Solicitor General; and Jennifer L. Brenner, Senior Counsel, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellee, Tennessee Board of Parole.

Judge(s): GOLDIN

This appeal arises from a decision by the Tennessee Board of Parole (the “Board”) to deny an inmate parole after his initial parole review hearing. In 2009, the inmate pled guilty to two counts of attempted rape of a child and two counts of incest and was sentenced to 20 years in prison with parole eligibility after serving 30% of his sentence. Apparently because of his good behavior, the Board considered the inmate for release on parole after he had served only 20% of his sentence. Without further explanation, the Board denied the inmate parole based solely on its finding that “[t]he release from custody at this time would depreciate the seriousness of the crime of which the offender stands convicted or promote disrespect of the law,” and deferred review of his parole application for five years. The inmate filed a petition for common-law writ of certiorari, arguing, among other things, that the Board acted arbitrarily in denying him parole based solely on the seriousness of the crime without providing any support or explanation for its decision. The trial court affirmed the Board’s decision and this appeal followed. On appeal, we conclude that the Board acted arbitrarily in deferring further review of the inmate’s parole application beyond the time when he would have otherwise been parole eligible—at 30% of his 20-year sentence. Because the inmate has already served more than 30% of his 20-year sentence, we hold that he should immediately be granted a new parole hearing. We therefore vacate the judgment of the trial court and remand this case for further proceedings consistent with this opinion