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Harris v. Clark

United States District Court, W.D. Pennsylvania

October 18, 2017

GEORGE LESTER HARRIS, a/k/a JORGE HARRIS Petitioner,
v.
MICHAEL R. CLARK, et al., Respondents.

          OPINION [1]

          SUSAN PARADISE BAXTER UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         Presently before the Court is a petition for a writ of habeas corpus filed by state prisoner George Lester Harris, Jr., (the "Petitioner") pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. (ECF No. 1). He challenges the January 11, 2017, decision made by the Pennsylvania Board of Probation and Parole (the "Board") to deny him parole. For the reasons set forth below, the petition is denied and a certificate of appealability is denied.

         I.

         A. Relevant Background

         On February 1, 2001, the Petitioner was sentenced in the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County to an aggregate term of imprisonment of 13 years, 6 months to 27 years for committing the crimes of Aggravated Assault and Violation of the Uniform Firearms Act. The Pennsylvania Department of Corrections ("DOC") calculated his minimum sentence date to be June 4, 2011, and his maximum sentence date to be December 4, 2024. After the expiration of his minimum sentence date, the Board granted the Petitioner parole and he was released in June 2013.

         In January 2015, the Petitioner failed to report to his parole agent and a check of his residence revealed that he was not living at his approved address. As a result, the Board declared the Petitioner delinquent. On January 19, 2015, the Petitioner was arrested in Meadville, Pennsylvania, and charged with Possession of a Controlled Substance, False Report to Law Enforcement, and additional charges. That same month, he was charged with Simple Assault and Harassment for a fight that occurred while he was incarcerated in the Crawford County Jail. In February 2015, the Board notified the Petitioner that he was detained pending disposition of is criminal charges and that it recommitted him as a technical parole violator for six months for leaving the district without permission, failure to report as instructed, and failure to be at his approved residence during curfew hours.

         On May 8, 2015, the Court of Common Pleas of Crawford County imposed a judgment of sentence upon the Petitioner of 109 days to 12 months for committing the crimes for which he was arrested in January of that year. As a result of his new judgments of sentences, in August 2015 the Board recommitted the Petitioner as a convicted parole violator to serve 9 months of backtime. His parole violation maximum sentence date was recalculated to be March 28, 2025.

         In December 2015, the Board denied the Petitioner reparole. On January 11, 2017, it denied him reparole again, and it is that decision that is at issue in this proceeding. On that date, the Board informed the Petitioner that:

Following an interview with you and a review of your file, and having considered all matters required pursuant to the Board of Probation and Parole, [the Board] in the exercise of its discretion, has determined at this time that: you are denied parole/reparole. The reasons for the Board's decision include the following:
Your risk and needs assessment indicating your level of risk to the community.
Reports, evaluations and assessments/level of risk indicates your risk to the community.
Your minimization of the nature and circumstances of the offense(s) committed.
Your lack of remorse for the offense(s) ...

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