ERIC S. STONE
TENNESSEE BOARD OF PAROLE
Session April 13, 2017
from the Chancery Court for Davidson County No. 15-1487-IV
Robert E. Lee Davies, Senior Judge
for writ of certiorari; inmate appeals the trial court's
order affirming the Tennessee Board of Parole's decision
to rescind its earlier grant of parole and deny parole. We
affirm the judgment of the trial court.
R. App. P. 3 Appeal as of Right; Judgment of the Chancery
L. Raybin, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Eric
Herbert H. Slatery, III, Attorney General and Reporter;
Andrée Blumstein, Solicitor General; Pamela S. Lorch,
Senior Counsel, for the appellee, Tennessee Board of Parole.
Richard H. Dinkins, J., delivered the opinion of the court,
in which Frank G. Clement, Jr., P.J., M.S., and W. Neal
McBrayer, J., joined.
RICHARD H. DINKINS, JUDGE
Factual and Procedural History
Stone is an inmate at Bledsoe County Correctional Complex,
serving a 25-year sentence for manufacturing methamphetamine.
On March 16, 2015, Mr. Stone had a parole hearing; there were
no letters sent in opposition to Mr. Stone being granted
parole in advance of the hearing, and at the hearing, no one
testified against his parole. On March 19 the Tennessee Board
of Probation and Parole ("the Board") accepted the
recommendation of the hearing officer and granted Mr. Stone
parole, with an effective release date of June 8, 2015.
the decision to grant parole was made, the Board received
letters from District Attorney General Lisa S. Zavogiannis
and Warren County Sheriff Jackie Matheny stating they were
unaware of the parole hearing and that they opposed his
parole. General Zavogiannis' letter stated, inter
alia, that she "adamantly opposed" parole
based upon Mr. Stone's "lengthy history of criminal
behavior" and his repeated parole violations. Sheriff
Matheny's letter stated he opposed Mr. Stone's parole
based on his "past history, " that the Warren
County Sheriff's Department had expended substantial
human and financial resources "making cases and
arresting Mr. Stone, " and that he had agreed to serve
45 percent of his 25-year sentence under the terms of his
plea agreement. On May 11, Mr. Stone was notified that, as a
result of "new information received after [the parole]
hearing, " the Board had voted to schedule a pre-parole
rescission hearing on June 16.
June 16 hearing, the hearing officer opened by stating that
the hearing was being held "because the board received
significant new information not presented at the [parole]
hearing, " that the hearing officer wanted to "go
over this information again with you to make sure that the
board has everything they need to decide if your parole
should be rescinded, " and that the hearing officer
would be making a nonbinding recommendation to the Board in
that regard. At the conclusion of the hearing, the officer
summarized his recommendation:
Mr. Stone this isn't an easy decision for me. I --
don't know if I would have done the hearing -- your
previous hearing different than your other hearing officer,
or not, but that's neither here nor there.
You know, you -- we went -- we went through the whole thing.
They granted you. They came and talked to your mom. A release
plan was approved. And then they pulled it back due to these
-- this opposition that we got.
I don't really think the opposition gave me more -- any
more information than what I already had about you. I mean,
we -- we knew every time you violated. We knew all your
charges and everything else.
So that being said, I'm just going to leave it that the
previous decision remains. The board will make the final
decision on that though.
notice dated July 8, Mr. Stone was advised that the Board
declined to grant him parole, based on a "substantial
risk that the offender will not conform to the conditions of
his release" and that "[r]elease from custody at
this time would depreciate the seriousness of the crime . . .
or promote disrespect of the law." The notice
advised Mr. Stone of his right to appeal the decision
pursuant to Tennessee Code Annotated section
40-28-105(d)(11), by sending a request to the Appeals Unit of
the Board within 45 days. Mr. Stone, through counsel, sent a
letter to the Board on August 20, appealing the decision and
asserting that the Board made "significant procedural
errors" in rescinding his parole.
letter dated November 5, 2015, the Parole Administrator
advised Mr. Stone that "your allegation of significant
procedural errors by the Hearing Official(s) was not
substantiated, " and his appeal had been denied; the
notice further advised that "[t]his disposition is final
and there is no further appeal recourse to you on this matter
through the Tennessee Board of Parole." Notwithstanding
the latter representation, the Parole Administrator notified
Mr. Stone by letter dated December 3 that "a review of
the record of [the June 15, 2015 parole grant hearing]
warrants further review by the Board as to whether a new
hearing will be held"; that his file had been sent to
the Board for further review; and that he would be notified
of the decision when the review was completed.
December 9, Mr. Stone filed a Petition for Writ of Certiorari
in Davidson County Chancery Court, seeking review of the
Board's decision to rescind his parole. On December 14,
the Parole Administrator sent Mr. Stone a letter advising him
that the Board had granted his request for an appeal hearing,
and on January 21, 2016, Mr. Stone's counsel was notified
that the appeal hearing had been set for February 26.
January 25, Mr. Stone filed a motion in the certiorari
proceeding seeking a stay of the administrative proceeding;
he asserted that the Board's initial decision to deny Mr.
Stone's appeal and statement that no further relief was
available from the Board were final decisions for purposes of
challenging the rescission of his parole. The Board
responded, opposing the motion and moving the court to stay
the certiorari proceeding on the ground that the
administrative proceeding was not yet complete. The court
denied both motions on February 19, 2016.
appeal hearing was held on February 26. The hearing officer
explained that the hearing had been granted because Mr. Stone
had not been provided with copies of the March 25, 2015
letters from General Zavogiannis and Sheriff Matheny prior to
the June 16, 2015 hearing and that the hearing would proceed
first to determine whether the previous recommendation that
Mr. Stone be granted parole should be rescinded, and, if so,
to hold a new parole hearing. The hearing officer then allowed
Mr. Stone and his counsel to state "the reasons you feel
like or you would ask the Board to - - to let that previous
decision [to grant parole] remain." After Mr. Stone and
his counsel responded, the hearing officer ruled:
The fact that the letters came in and the Board's
procedure when --after a -- after the votes have been done in
a particular case, if -- if things come to light, if new
information becomes available, whether it be opposition
letters or letters of support or new convictions or
judgments, anything that triggers that, the Board will always
come back and revisit the case. And that's what they did
in this case, sir, because of the letters.
Now, I understand your position today, sir. I will be making
a recommendation to the Board.
And, again, I have -- I have two options, Gentlemen: To let
the previous decision remain or to rescind that decision --
or recommend to rescind it and go to a grant hearing. Now,
these letters came in after the initial date. The Board was
not aware of the letters at the time when they --when they
initially voted. All right.
Based on that new information today, Gentlemen, my
recommendation to the Board as to the rescission is going to
be that they rescind that previous decision and that we go to
a grant hearing today.
So, Gentlemen, what we will be doing now is going into a -- a
-- a grant hearing on the sentence. And we'll go over
some more facts in just a moment, and we'll let you give
me some more information, if you want to, sir. We'll be
going over your prior record.
And at the conclusion of this hearing, I will be making a
recommendation whether or not to recommend to the Board that
you be granted parole or declined parole.
The original decision, Mr. Raybin [counsel for Mr. Stone],
was to parole, with an effective date in June. That date has
passed. So, technically, to let the previous decision remain
-- well, we have passed that date. So I am going to recommend
to rescind that decision and go into a grant hearing.
All right. Mr. Stone, we are seeing you today on a 25-year
sentence out of Warren County for Schedule II drug charges.