Inmate seeks new hearing on his rights | NevadaAppeal.com

Inmate seeks new hearing on his rights

Prison inmate John Witherow has asked the Nevada Supreme Court to reconsider its ruling that said he has no specific due process rights during a parole hearing.

The court in September ruled unanimously there is no right to parole and, therefore, no due process rights for inmates during a parole hearing.

Witherow’s petition, filed by Reno lawyer Donald York Evans, argues the 2007 Legislature clarified that a parole hearing is a quasi-judicial proceeding. He argues that means parole hearings should be “of a judicial character, afford the parties substantially the same rights as those available in a court of law.”

He says that includes the right to present and object to evidence, the ability to cross examine witnesses, should provide the inmate with a written decision and the ability to appeal to a higher authority.

The petition asks a rehearing on that issue “to definitively resolve the procedural protections to which Witherow is entitled in a quasi-judicial hearing on his parole application.”

The high court in September disposed of five separate actions against the Parole Board by Witherow, ruling parole is “an act of grace of the state.”

“While prisoners may have a protectable due process right to apply for parole, they do not have a protectable due process right in being granted release on parole,” the opinion stated.

The court has maintained through the years that they will not consider an inmate’s petition for relief because he was denied parole.

Witherow is serving life as an habitual criminal. He is the same inmate who filed a lawsuit arguing the Parole Board must be bound by the open meeting law.

• Contact reporter Geoff Dornan at gdornan@nevadaappeal.com or 687-8750.