Thomas v. Sellers, No. 81-7822

CourtU.S. Court of Appeals — Eleventh Circuit
Writing for the CourtBefore VANCE and JOHNSON; PER CURIAM
Citation691 F.2d 487
PartiesJohn Cook THOMAS, Plaintiff-Appellant, v. Sara Cousins SELLERS, Defendant-Appellee.
Docket NumberNo. 81-7822
Decision Date08 November 1982

Page 487

691 F.2d 487
John Cook THOMAS, Plaintiff-Appellant,
v.
Sara Cousins SELLERS, Defendant-Appellee.
No. 81-7822.
United States Court of Appeals,
Eleventh Circuit.
Nov. 8, 1982.

Ira Burnim, Montgomery, Ala. (Court Appointed-Not Under Act), for plaintiff-appellant.

Larry L. Raby, Billington M. Garrett, and Elizabeth Ann Evans, Asst. Attys. Gen., Montgomery, Ala., for defendant-appellee.

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Middle District of Alabama.

Before VANCE and JOHNSON, Circuit Judges, and ALLGOOD *, District Judge.

PER CURIAM:

In 1977, John Cook Thomas was sentenced to eight years in jail on a Mobile County, Alabama burglary charge. After a successful appeal and upon being re-tried he received a sentence of five years on this charge. Considering this conviction alone, appellant was scheduled for a hearing before the Alabama Board of Pardons and Paroles in January, 1979. That date was set based on appellant having served one-third of his Mobile sentence. Appellant was not aware that this date had been set. After setting the hearing date, the Board learned that Thomas had been convicted of grand larceny in Tallapoosa County, Alabama in April, 1978 and received an eight year sentence to run concurrently with the earlier conviction. When the Board was informed of the Tallapoosa County conviction, the date the appellant would be eligible for parole was re-determined and the hearing before the Board was rescheduled for March, 1981.

Page 488

Thomas filed this pro se action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against Sara Cousins Sellers, Chairman of the Alabama Board of Pardons and Paroles. Thomas alleged the Board had violated his constitutional rights to due process of law when it changed the date of the hearing without notice to him.

The defendant-appellee filed a motion for summary judgment explaining that the original hearing date was cancelled because Thomas was not eligible for parole in January, 1979, due to his Tallapoosa County conviction. Thomas opposed this motion and filed his own motion for summary judgment. He contended that the Alabama statutes 1 contain mandatory language directing that parole be granted when certain conditions are met. Thomas argues that this mandatory language creates a protectable liberty interest. He further contends that the appellee's failure to notify him of the changed parole date denied him a fair opportunity to be heard.

The District Court for the Middle District of Alabama, on June 19, 1981, granted the defendant's motion for summary judgment and denied plaintiff's motion. The District Court held that Thomas was not constitutionally entitled to a hearing because the language of the Alabama statute makes parole within the discretionary power of the parole board after their consideration of numerous factors. Thomas v. Sellers (Civil Action No. 80-484-N, June 19, 1981).

The United States...

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57 practice notes
  • McFarland v. Folsom, No. 93-D-1098-N.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. Middle District of Alabama
    • March 18, 1994
    ...his liberty interest, if state law is framed "in discretionary terms there is not a liberty interest created." Thomas v. Sellers, 691 F.2d 487, 489 (11th Cir.1982) (per Stated simply, "a State creates a protected liberty interest by placing substantive limitations on official discretion." A......
  • Board of Pardons v. Allen, No. 86-461
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • June 9, 1987
    ...(CA7 1986) (Indiana statute); Berard v. State of Vermont Parole Board, 730 F.2d 71, 75 (CA2 1984) (Vermont statute); Thomas v. Sellers, 691 F.2d 487, 488 (CA11 1982) (Alabama statute); Staton v. Wainwright, 665 F.2d 686, 688 (CA5 1982) (Florida statute); Jackson v. Reese, 608 F.2d 159, 160 ......
  • Brown v. Dillard, CASE NO. 2:13-CV-815-WHA (WO)
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. Middle District of Alabama
    • April 20, 2016
    ...there is not a liberty interest created. . . . Alabama parole statutes do not create a liberty interest [in parole]." Thomas v. Sellers, 691 F.2d 487, 489 (11th Cir. 1982). This court's exhaustive review of the history of the Alabama statute governing release on parole establishes that from......
  • Robles v. Dennison, No. 05–CV–0428(VEB).
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Court of Western District of New York
    • October 13, 2010
    ...without reliance on false information.” Gordon, 592 F.Supp.2d at 653 n. 56 (citing Monroe, 932 F.2d at 1442) (citing Thomas v. Sellers, 691 F.2d 487, 489 (11th Cir.1982)). In light of this limited interest, the Eleventh Circuit held that the parole board had acted “arbitrarily and capriciou......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
57 cases
  • McFarland v. Folsom, No. 93-D-1098-N.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. Middle District of Alabama
    • March 18, 1994
    ...his liberty interest, if state law is framed "in discretionary terms there is not a liberty interest created." Thomas v. Sellers, 691 F.2d 487, 489 (11th Cir.1982) (per Stated simply, "a State creates a protected liberty interest by placing substantive limitations on official discretion." A......
  • Board of Pardons v. Allen, No. 86-461
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • June 9, 1987
    ...(CA7 1986) (Indiana statute); Berard v. State of Vermont Parole Board, 730 F.2d 71, 75 (CA2 1984) (Vermont statute); Thomas v. Sellers, 691 F.2d 487, 488 (CA11 1982) (Alabama statute); Staton v. Wainwright, 665 F.2d 686, 688 (CA5 1982) (Florida statute); Jackson v. Reese, 608 F.2d 159, 160 ......
  • Brown v. Dillard, CASE NO. 2:13-CV-815-WHA (WO)
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. Middle District of Alabama
    • April 20, 2016
    ...there is not a liberty interest created. . . . Alabama parole statutes do not create a liberty interest [in parole]." Thomas v. Sellers, 691 F.2d 487, 489 (11th Cir. 1982). This court's exhaustive review of the history of the Alabama statute governing release on parole establishes that from......
  • Robles v. Dennison, No. 05–CV–0428(VEB).
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Court of Western District of New York
    • October 13, 2010
    ...without reliance on false information.” Gordon, 592 F.Supp.2d at 653 n. 56 (citing Monroe, 932 F.2d at 1442) (citing Thomas v. Sellers, 691 F.2d 487, 489 (11th Cir.1982)). In light of this limited interest, the Eleventh Circuit held that the parole board had acted “arbitrarily and capriciou......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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