Tucker v. Ala. Bd. of Pardons & Paroles, CR–14–0720.

CourtAlabama Court of Criminal Appeals
Writing for the CourtKELLUM, Judge.
Citation188 So.3d 713
Decision Date14 August 2015
Docket NumberCR–14–0720.

188 So.3d 713



Court of Criminal Appeals of Alabama.

Aug. 14, 2015.

188 So.3d 715

Renard Tucker, pro se.

Luther Strange, atty. gen., and Steven M. Sirmon, asst. atty. gen., for appellee.

KELLUM, Judge.

Renard Tucker appeals the circuit court's dismissal of his petition for a writ of certiorari, in which he challenged the August 2013 decisions by the Alabama Board of Pardons and Paroles (hereinafter "the Board") to deny him parole and to reset his parole consideration for August 2018.

In 1993, Tucker was convicted of felony murder and was sentenced to life imprisonment. In August 2013, Tucker was, for the fourth time, denied parole by the Board. Upon denying Tucker parole, the Board reset Tucker for parole consideration in August 2018.

On January 14, 2015, Tucker filed his petition for a writ of certiorari challenging the Board's August 2013 decisions to deny him parole and to reset his parole consideration for August 2018. In his petition, Tucker alleged: (1) that the Board's decision to deny him parole was arbitrary and capricious; and (2) that the Board violated the Ex Post Facto Clause of the United States Constitution when it set his next parole consideration date for August 2018 based on parole rules that were not in effect at the time he was convicted and sentenced. On February 26, 2015, the Board filed a motion to dismiss Tucker's petition, arguing that Tucker's claims were meritless. That same day, the circuit court granted the Board's motion and dismissed Tucker's petition.

On appeal, Tucker reasserts the two claims raised in his petition and argues that the circuit court erred in denying his petition. We disagree.

" ‘On petition for writ of certiorari the circuit court is, as is the appellate court, limited in its review of quasi-judicial acts of administrative officers and boards. The limited function of that review is to determine whether the act in question was supported by any substantial evidence, or whether findings and conclusions are contrary to uncontradicted evidence, or whether there was an improper application of the findings
188 So.3d 716
viewed in a legal sense. Sanders v. Broadwater, 402 So.2d 1035 (Ala.Civ.App.1981). Judicial review of administrative acts and decisions is limited in scope, and ordinarily the courts will only pass on the question of whether the administrative agency has acted within its constitutional or statutory powers, whether its order or determination is supported by substantial evidence, and whether its action is reasonable and not arbitrary. Little Caesar's, Inc. v. Alabama Alcoholic Beverage Control Bd., 386 So.2d 224 (Ala.Civ.App.1979).’ "

Alabama Bd. of Pardons & Paroles v. Williams, 935 So.2d 478, 484 (Ala.Crim.App.2005) (quoting Ellard v. State, 474 So.2d 743, 750 (Ala.Crim.App.1984) ). "A court may not set aside an order of a fact-finding administrative body, acting within the field of its designated powers, unless the order is illegal, capricious, or unsupported by substantial evidence." Ellard, 474 So.2d at 750.

Moreover, "an inmate has no liberty interest in parole; thus, due-process rights do not attach to the denial of parole, but only to the revocation of parole." Alabama Bd. of Pardons & Paroles v. Wright, 37 So.3d 842, 843 (Ala.Crim.App.2009). As this court explained in Andrus v. Lambert, 424 So.2d 5 (Ala.Crim.App.1982) :

"The right to a parole is a privilege granted by the people of Alabama to those committed to our penal institutions as punishment for crimes. Holley v. State, 397 So.2d 211, 216 (Ala.Crim.App.), cert. denied, 397 So.2d 217 (Ala.1981). Obtaining an early release through parole, like obtaining a pardon, is wholly contingent upon either the grace of the detaining authority or some affirmative statutory entitlement. United States v. Chagra, 669 F.2d 241, 264 (5th Cir.1982). While no constitutional or inherent right of a convicted person to be conditionally released prior to the expiration of a valid sentence exists, Greenholtz v. Nebraska, 442 U.S. 1, 7, 99 S.Ct. 2100, 2104, 60 L.Ed.2d 668 (1979), a prisoner has the right to be properly considered for parole. Christopher v. U.S. Board of Parole, 589 F.2d 924 (7th Cir.1978) ; Wallace v. Turner, 525 F.Supp. 1072 (S.D.Fla.1981). The paroling authority must comply with constitutional requirements and may not determine parole eligibility on improper grounds. Wallace v. Turner, supra. A parole should not be denied for false, insufficient, or capricious reasons. Christopher, supra."

424 So.2d at 9.

Bearing in mind these principles, we address each of Tucker's claims in turn.


Tucker first reasserts on appeal the claim raised in his petition that the Board's decision to deny him parole was arbitrary and capricious.

First, Tucker argues, as he did in his petition, that the Board's decision to deny him parole was arbitrary and capricious because, he says, the Board failed to provide him the reason for the denial. Section 15–22–36(b), Ala.Code 1975, provides:

"Each member of the Board of Pardons and Paroles favoring a pardon, parole, remission of a fine or forfeiture, or restoration of civil and political rights shall enter in the file his or her reasons in detail, which entry and the order shall be public records, but all other portions of the file shall be privileged."

(Emphasis added.) However, § 15–22–36(b) speaks only to instances in which parole is "favored." "There is no statutory requirement that a Board member detail his reasons for denying parole." Tedder v.

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Alabama Bd. of Pardons & Paroles, 677 So.2d 1261, 1264 (Ala.Crim.App.1996) (emphasis added). Therefore, this argument is meritless.

Second, Tucker argues, as he did in his petition, that the Board's decision to deny him parole was arbitrary and capricious because, he says, his family told him that the Board denied him parole based on his numerous prison-disciplinary infractions. Tucker maintains, however, that he "has witnessed the board release numerous of inmates with twice as many disciplinaries" and that, therefore, the Board's reasons for denying him parole were "false and insufficient." (Tucker's brief, p. 5.)

Initially, we point out that Tucker admitted in his...

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