The stakes for a parolee facing revocation are high; the Parole Board can send the parolee back to prison to serve the remainder of his term, which can mean one or more additional years behind bars. To find probable cause to revoke parole, a hearing officer need only determine that there is probable cause to believe the parolee violated the conditions of his parole. To revoke parole altogether, the hearing officer must find "clear and convincing" evidence of a violation. If the Board agrees, parole is revoked.
Once the Board has ruled, a parolee may file an administrative appeal. Failing that, he may appeal to the appellate division of the Superior Court of New Jersey; however, the Appellate Division will only intervene if it finds the board's decision was "arbitrary or capricious", a difficult standard to meet. Thus, an accused parole violator is well-advised to aggressively address all charges in the probable cause hearing and, if necessary, the revocation hearing. While the U.S. Constitution does not guarantee a parolee representation by counsel during such hearings, representation is usually allowed.
However, law school does not prepare attorneys to represent clients before the Parole Board, where traditional rules of evidence and general courtroom practices do not apply. So, to provide my client with the best legal representation possible, I educated myself on the ins and outs of the parole revocation process. I consulted with veteran criminal defense attorneys, gaining insight from their experience, and gathered all available evidence that could impact the case. I met with my client in prison on several occasions, spending hours going over the issues and familiarizing myself with my client's overall legal and personal situation.
During the hearings, my client and I worked together to present his side of the story, submit evidence supporting his defense, and offer alternative punishment options in case the Board rules unfavorably. The hearing officer will now recommend a course of action to the Board and it will render a decision within the month.
I am proud I was able to provide high quality representation to an indigent client, albeit in an area of the law where I do not generally practice. Furthermore, I remain available to the client in case an appeal is necessary. In the meantime, my client and I await the decision of the Board.