Court of Appeal Requests Answer Regarding Van Houten Parole Reversal

Thursday, October 4th, 2018

Oct. 4 – The 2nd District Court of Appeal has given the Attorney General of California until November 5th to file an opposition to Leslie Van Houten’s latest challenge of Governor Jerry Brown’s reversal of her 2017 parole recommendation.

In June, Superior Court Judge William C. Ryan, upheld Brown’s reversal, stating that the Governor had met all due process requirements

“This court is not entitled to reweigh the evidence before the Governor; rather it is tasked with determining whether the record contains some evidence in support of the Governor’s decision,” wrote Ryan. “This court finds that it does, and that there is a rational nexus between the evidence in the record and the Governor’s determination of [Van Houten’s] current dangerousness.”

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Van Houten Requests Resentencing

Friday, September 28th, 2018

Leslie Van Houten has requested to be resentenced.

In June, Governor Jerry Brown signed an assembly bill which amended the penal code to allow the Board of Parole Hearings and the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation the ability to make recommendations for resentencing, provided the new sentence is no greater than the original.

On Wednesday, Van Houten’s attorney, Richard Pfeiffer filed a motion with the Board of Parole Hearings and the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation requesting they recommend Van Houten’s sentence be recalled by the superior court.

Van Houten is still waiting on an appellate court ruling regarding Governor Brown’s reversal of her most recent parole recommendation. Last week, Pfeiffer filed a supplemental petition bringing to light a newly published opinion that he felt bolstered Van Houten’s argument that Brown’s reversal was not supported by the record.

Van Houten’s next parole hearing is scheduled for Wednesday, January 30, 2019

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Court Upholds Van Houten Parole Reversal

Friday, June 29th, 2018

The reversal of Leslie Van Houten’s 2017 parole grant has been upheld by the Los Angeles County Superior Court.

A parole board found Van Houten suitable for parole in September, but the decision was reversed by Governor Jerry Brown, who reasoned that the heinousness of the murders outweighed Van Houten’s positive prison record. Brown also accused Van Houten of downplaying her role in the murders, saying she attempted to shift blame to Charles Manson.

In January, Van Houten’s attorney, Richard Pfeiffer filed a writ of Habeas Corpus challenging Brown’s reversal, arguing the decision relied on isolated negative factors to support the conclusion that Leslie Van Houten posed an unreasonable risk if released.

In a ruling today, Judge William C. Ryan stated there was some evidence supporting Governor Brown’s decision.

“The Governor met all due process requirements, and considered all relevant statutory factors tending to show suitability, including positive psychological reports,” wrote Ryan. “This court is not entitled to reweigh the evidence before the Governor; rather it is tasked with determining whether the record contains some evidence in support of the Governor’s decision. This court finds that it does, and that there is a rational nexus between the evidence in the record and the Governor’s determination of [Van Houten’s] current dangerousness.”

This evening, Pfeiffer sought relief from California’s 2nd District Court of Appeal, filing 48-page writ challenging Ryan’s ruling.

Van Houten, was sentenced to death in 1971 for her part in the August 10, 1969 murder deaths of Leno and Rosemary LaBianca. The following year, Van Houten saw her sentence commuted to life after the California supreme court outlawed the death penalty, stating it was unconstitutional. In 1976, an appeals court ruled Van Houten was denied a fair trial because her attorney, Ronald Hughes, disappeared while the trial was in progress.

Van Houten was retried in 1977, resulting in a hung jury. She was retried the following year and again convicted, this time sentenced to life with the possibility of parole. Because of time served on her original sentence, Van Houten was already eligible for parole when she returned to prison in August of 1978.

Since then, she has been denied parole 19 times. She has been recommended for parole in her last two consecutive parole hearings. Both decisions have been reversed by Governor Brown.

Her next parole hearing is tentatively scheduled for March 2019.

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Court Needs More Time for Van Houten Ruling

Sunday, June 24th, 2018

Jun. 24 – Superior court Judge William C. Ryan has granted himself a 10-day extension to rule on Leslie Van Houten’s petition of Habeas corpus. Ryan will have until July 1st to rule.

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Van Houten Counters Attorney General Filing

Tuesday, May 22nd, 2018

May. 22 – Governor Jerry Brown relied on isolated negative factors to support his conclusion that Leslie Van Houten posed an unreasonable risk if released on parole, according to a court filing made by her attorneys in response to one made by the state’s Attorney General’s office three weeks ago.

On May 3, Deputy Attorney General Jill Vander Borght defended Brown, asserting his decision relied on both the murders and Van Houten’s minimization of her role in them. Vander Borght argued that Brown had broad discretion while considering parole suitability and that the record supported his position.

In response, Van Houten’s attorneys, Richard Pfeiffer and Nancy Tetreault, filed a 39-page traverse, arguing dissonance between the record and Brown’s conclusions.

“Under the law, the standard for parole suitability must be the same for Leslie Van Houten as it is for all other inmates in California,” wrote Tetreault. “She cannot be denied parole because she is tainted by the stigma of Charles Manson. [She] must be viewed for her own conduct involving the commitment offenses, and not judged by the conduct of Manson.”

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