REX A. FERGUSON
TENNESSEE BOARD OF PAROLE
Assigned on Briefs June 3, 2019
from the Chancery Court for Davidson County No. 17-548-III
Ellen H. Lyle, Chancellor
an appeal from the judgment of the trial court denying an
inmate's petition for writ of certiorari challenging the
Tennessee Board of Parole's denial of parole. The inmate
contends the Board's decision to deny parole based solely
on the seriousness of the offense was arbitrary and
capricious, and the trial court abused its discretion in
denying his petition. More specifically, he contends that
denying parole on the basis of one factor, the seriousness of
the offenses, "in the face of so many positive factors,
without an explanation of how these positive factors do not
outweigh the seriousness of the offense, constitutes an
arbitrary and capricious decision contrary to the weight of
the evidence in the record." Having determined that
"'seriousness of the offense' is a proper,
independent basis to deny parole release," the trial
court denied the petition for writ of certiorari. Because the
seriousness of the offense is a proper, independent basis for
denying parole under Tenn. Code Ann. § 40-35-503(b)(2),
and the trial court did not abuse its discretion in denying
the petition, we affirm.
R. App. P. 3 Appeal as of Right; Judgment of the Chancery
Randall Eugene Reagan and Douglas A. Trant, Knoxville,
Tennessee, for the appellant, Rex A. Ferguson.
S. Lorch, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellee, Tennessee
Board of Parole.
G. Clement Jr., P.J., M.S., delivered the opinion of the
Court, in which Thomas R. Frierson II and Kenny W. Armstrong,
G. CLEMENT JR., P.J., M.S.
Ferguson ("Petitioner"), who has been incarcerated
since 1993, is serving a 96-year sentence on two counts of
especially aggravated kidnapping and three counts of
aggravated rape of two women.
Tennessee Board of Parole (the "Board") held its
initial parole-release hearing concerning Petitioner on
August 1, 2016. In support of his request for parole,
Petitioner presented certificates of completion regarding
several vocational training courses, as well as courses in
anger management, alcohol and substance abuse, and the
pro-life social class. In addition, he presented several
letters of support from correctional staff and
Petitioner's family. It was also recognized that he
received his General Equivalency Diploma in 1993 from the
Tennessee Department of Corrections. Additionally, Petitioner
presented a Parole Offender Release Plan establishing that he
had obtained employment upon his release and detailing where
he would be living. No one appeared in opposition to
Petitioner being granted parole, no written statements in
opposition to parole were presented, and it was undisputed
that Petitioner had no disciplinary "write-ups"
the August 1, 2016 hearing, the Board voted to continue the
hearing in order to obtain a psychological evaluation of
Petitioner. After receiving the psychological evaluation, the
Board reconvened the hearing on March 28, 2017, and denied
parole due to the seriousness of his offenses.
1, 2017, Petitioner filed a petition for common-law writ of
certiorari challenging the denial of parole by the Board. On
February 16, 2018, the Board filed a Notice of No Opposition
to Granting Petition for Writ of Certiorari. The trial court
granted the petition for writ of certiorari by written order
filed on February 23, 2018, ordered the Board to prepare and
certify the record of the parole board proceedings, and set a
briefing schedule. On August 30, 2018, the trial court filed
its Memorandum and Order Denying Petition for Writ of
Certiorari Challenging Denial of Parole. This appeal
do not have an absolute right to be released on parole."
Brennan v. Bd. of Parole, 512 S.W.3d 871, 873 (Tenn.
2017). "Parole is a privilege, not a right."
Id. (citing Tenn. Code Ann. §§
40-28-117(a)(1), 40-35-503(b); Tenn. Bd. Parole R.
1100-01-01-.02(2)); see also Greenholtz v. Inmates of
Neb. Penal & Corr. Complex, 442 U.S. 1, 7 (1979)
("There is no constitutional or inherent right of a