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Roberts v. Kelley

United States District Court, E.D. Arkansas, Western Division

August 10, 2018

WENDY KELLEY, Director, Arkansas Department of Correction RESPONDENT


         I. Procedure for Filing Objections:

         This Recommended Disposition (“Recommendation”) has been sent to Judge J. Leon Holmes. Either party to this suit may file written objections with the Clerk of Court within 14 days of the date of this Recommendation. Objections should be specific and should include the factual or legal basis for the objection.

         By not objecting, the right to appeal questions of fact may be jeopardized. And, if no objections are filed, Judge Holmes can adopt this Recommendation without independently reviewing the record.

         II. Background:

         Brunson Roberts was convicted of several drug-related offenses in Pulaski County Circuit Court in 2003. He received an aggregate sentence of 33-years' imprisonment. (#9-2 at 5-19) He was released to parole on August 2, 2017. (Id. at 20)

         Mr. Roberts was arrested again on October 28, 2017, and charged with aggravated assault on a family or household member, first-degree terroristic threatening, and third- degree domestic battering.[1] (#9-3, #9-4) As a result of the new charges, the Arkansas Parole Board moved to revoke Mr. Roberts's parole. (#9-6 at 4-6) On November 8, 2017, Mr. Roberts attended a parole revocation hearing before Hearing Officer Lisa Wilkins. (#9-6) Prior to the hearing, Mr. Roberts was given notice of the conditions of parole he allegedly violated and also the date, time, and location of the hearing. (Id. at 1)

         At the hearing, Officer Custer, who had reported to the scene of Mr. Roberts's arrest on October 28, 2017, testified that he and Officer Gavin responded to a call from a female regarding a disturbance at a residence in Little Rock. (Id. at 2) When he arrived, Mr. Roberts was outside the residence banging on the door with a knife. (Id.) The altercation apparently arose from Mr. Roberts's belief that the victim had taken his keys and prescription pain medication. (Id.) The victim told Officer Gavin that Mr. Roberts had put a knife to her neck. (Id.) Officer Custer testified that Officer Gavin had observed several “choke marks” on the victim's neck. (Id.)

         Mr. Roberts cross-examined Officer Custer. (Id.) He also testified on his own behalf. He stated that he had taken the victim grocery shopping and that afterward, his “stuff came up missing.” (Id.) He stated there was a commotion, and he decided to leave, but could not because his keys were missing.

         Mr. Roberts also called a friend, Mr. Hagler, to testify. Mr. Hagler stated that he lived next-door to Mr. Roberts's mother in North Little Rock. Mr. Hagler stated that Mr. Roberts had sent him texts between 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. on the 28th, and that the police had called him later to retrieve Mr. Roberts's truck. He stated he did not find a key or prescription medications in the truck. (Id.)

         In a written hearing summary and disposition order, Hearing Officer Wilkins found, based on the testimony and exhibits presented, that Mr. Roberts had violated his parole. (#9-6 at 2-3, #9-7) Officer Wilkins revoked Mr. Roberts's parole and sentenced him to the Short Term Revocation Program (Program), which allows inmates to be released after 90 days, contingent upon good behavior and an approved parole plan. Under the terms of the disposition order, if Mr. Roberts failed to comply with Program requirements, his parole would be revoked and he would be sentenced to six months in prison. (Id.) The Board provided Mr. Roberts with a copy of the decision. (#9-6 at 3)

         Mr. Roberts did not follow the Program's requirement to maintain good behavior during his 90-day incarceration at the Pulaski County Detention Facility. As a result, he was sent to the Arkansas Department of Correction to serve a six-month suspended revocation sentence. (#9-6 at 10)

         Mr. Roberts was informed of his right to an administrative appeal of his revocation. (Id. at 7-8) He submitted a letter of appeal to the Arkansas Parole Board. (Id. at 12-13, #20 at 8-9 (pages 2 and 4 of the appeal letter)) The Board, however, affirmed the decision to revoke. (Id. at 11) Mr. Roberts did not seek judicial review of the Board's decision in the Pulaski County Circuit Court.

         While Mr. Roberts was serving his Short Term Revocation sentence at the Pulaski County Regional Detention Facility (“PCRDF”), he received a disciplinary for possessing a contraband razor. (#6 at 1-3) As a result of the disciplinary, Mr. Roberts was assigned to administrative segregation and lost privileges for 30 days.

         A. Mr. Roberts's Claims

         In his amended petition, Mr. Roberts claims he was denied a police report at the revocation hearing and, consequently, could not prepare an effective defense. (#6 at 2) He also complains that Hearing Officer Wilkins violated his due process rights by failing to give him a statement of the factual evidence she relied on in finding that he had violated his parole conditions. (Id. at 2) Mr. Roberts further claims that he was ...

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