Bessette appeal denied

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The Nevada Supreme Court has refused to order the parole board to release a convicted rapist.

James Bessette sought a writ ordering the parole board and psychiatric evaluation panel to "stop improperly denying him certification based on his refusal to admit guilt."

That certification is the psychiatric panel's agreement that he is no longer a danger to commit another sex crime. District court denied his petition and he appealed to the Supreme Court.

Bessette was convicted in August 1988 of sexual assault on a victim over the age of 65 and sentenced to two consecutive life terms in the state prison.

He argues that he is being improperly denied parole because he won't admit to the crime. The high court said he has no right to challenge the denial.

"Parole is an act of grace," the order says. "A prisoner has no constitutional right to parole."

Under Nevada law, a prisoner convicted of sexual assault can be released on parole only after certification by the psychiatric panel that he is "not a menace to the health, safety or morals of others."

The high court says no prisoner has a right to be certified or any right to file legal action against the state for refusing to certify him.

In addition, two convicted murderers were rejected in their latest attempts to overturn life sentences.

Walter D. Morgan was convicted of murder with a deadly weapon in July 1989. Edward Michael Parker entered a plea to murder in September 1993.

Wednesday, both were denied petitions for a writ of habeas corpus when the high court ruled they had already exhausted that option and that the new petitions were procedurally barred "absent a demonstration of good cause and prejudice" or a showing that there has been some "fundamental miscarriage of justice."

Both cases originated in Clark County.


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