We now have a significant amount of clarification on current procedures for hearings before Alabama’s Board of Pardons and Paroles. Specifically, these clarifications are related to the order in which cases are heard and how many speakers each applicant is allowed. There have also been changes to the manner in which cases are heard.
If you have an interest in a hearing either for yourself or someone close to you, it will be helpful to know a bit more about what to expect at the hearing.
Order of hearing cases: In the past, cases were called based a numbering system. The earlier you arrived to get in line (they opened the doors at 7:30) the lower your number and the quicker your case would be called. Today, thankfully, cases are called at the discretion of the Board staff. Cases in which there are a large number of people in opposition AND/OR cases where lawyers are present are called first. Under the current rules, having a lawyer there with you ensures that your case will be called early in the docket. According to the Board’s minutes, they regularly take a lunch break and hear cases in the afternoons. This is obviously not ideal… being called early in the day is preferred.
Number of presenters: There was some initial confusion about how many people are allowed to speak in each case. We have now clarified that each applicant can have up to two people speak for them, AND a lawyer. In other words, if you have a lawyer present not only does your case go to the front of the line, but one extra person will get to address the board on behalf of your case. This offers an additional opportunity to let the Board know facts about the case that may very well have an influence on the outcome of the hearing. Since each presenter is limited to merely 3 minutes, having a lawyer increases an applicant’s opportunity to address the Board by 50%.
Organization of hearings: Under the current scheme, cases are called in groups of three or four at a time. All interested parties from both sides remain in the hearing room throughout presentation, deliberation and announcement of decisions by the Board. In our experience, the first group of cases to be called takes around an hour from start to finish. We have never been present, but we assume groups later in the day move more quickly as there are fewer presenters for either side. We have mixed emotions about this way of handling the dockets, but agree that it’s best to be aware of what to expect prior to showing up and being surprised.
As you can see, the advantages of having an experienced lawyer who is well-versed in the process and procedure of the Board works to your advantage in more ways than one.
As always, if you or someone you care about has an upcoming parole hearing, or is interested in applying for a pardon, reach out to Skier & Associates to set up a consultation. We will listen to the facts of your case, make recommendations as to your best course of action, and will discuss our representation before the Board.