Van Houten Granted Hearing In Appellate Court

Wednesday, February 20th, 2019

An appellate court judge has granted Leslie Van Houten a hearing regarding her writ of Habeas Corpus challenging Jerry Brown’s reversal of her September 2017 parole recommendation.

Judge Frances Rothschild today ordered the attorney general to come before the court to show cause as to why Van Houten’s petition should not be granted. The hearing will be held in downtown Los Angeles at 9 A.M. on April 24th.

Van Houten’s attorney, Richard Pfeiffer, feels the courts are Van Houten’s best path to freedom.

A parole board found Van Houten suitable for parole in September 2017. Then-Governor Jerry Brown reversed the decision in January of 2018, citing the heinousness of the murders. Brown accused Van Houten of downplaying her role in the murders, saying she attempted to shift blame to Charles Manson.

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 June of 2018, Superior Court Judge William C. Ryan upheld Brown’s reversal.

“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.”

Pfeiffer immediately challenged Ryan’s ruling in California’s 2nd District Court of Appeal.

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 three consecutive parole hearings. Her 2016 and 2017 parole recommendations were reversed by then-Governor Jerry Brown. Her most recent parole recommendation is still being reviewed by the Board of Parole Hearings and will eventually be reviewed by newly elected Gavin Newsom.

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Leslie Van Houten Recommended For Parole For Third Time

Wednesday, January 30th, 2019

Jan. 30 – Leslie Van Houten was found suitable for parole at a hearing held today at the California Institute for Women in Corona, California. This was Van Houten’s third parole suitability recommendation.

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 during the trial.

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

She has been denied parole 19 times since becoming eligible for parole in 1978. She was recommended for parole for the first time in April of 2016. On July 22, 2016, then Governor Jerry Brown vetoed the decision, stating, “I have considered the evidence in the record that is relevant to whether Van Houten is currently dangerous. When considered as a whole, I find the evidence shows that she currently poses an unreasonable danger to society if released from prison.”

She was recommended for parole a second time in September of 2017. Once again, Brown overturned the decision citing the heinousness of the commitment offense.

In January of last year, 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 Van Houten posed an unreasonable risk if released. That June, Brown’s reversal was upheld by the Superior Court.

“The Governor met all due process requirements, and considered all relevant statutory factors tending to show suitability, including positive psychological reports,” wrote Judge William 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.”

Pfeiffer challenged the ruling in California’s 2nd District Court of Appeal, who have yet to rule on it.

Today’s decision will undergo a 120-day review by the Board of Parole Hearings. Then it will be reviewed by Governor Gavin Newsom, who will have until June 29th to either confirm, reverse or modify the parole grant.

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Bobby Beausoleil Granted Parole

Thursday, January 3rd, 2019

BEAUSOLEIL FOUND SUITABLE FOR RELEASE

Jan. 3 – Bobby Beausoleil was found suitable for parole today by the California Board of Parole Hearings.

Today’s decision will undergo a 120 day BPH review. If the grant withstands scrutiny, it will then be sent to newly elected Governor Gavin Newsom. Newsom will have five options. He may uphold, reverse or modify the decision. He may also send it back to the full BPH board to review en banc (meaning all 15 commissioners at a monthly meeting), or he may take no action. If he takes no action the grant moves forward.

Beausoleil has been incarcerated since June 23, 1970, serving a term of 7-years-to-life, for the 1969 murder of musician Gary Hinman. He was tried twice, the first resulting in hung jury and the second, a conviction. He was sentenced to death on April 15, 1970, but saw that sentence commuted to life when the death penalty was briefly outlawed.

Beausoleil has been denied parole 18 times since he became eligible on August 4th, 1976.

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Attorney General Opposes Van Houten Writ

Tuesday, November 6th, 2018

Nov. 6 – The Attorney General of California maintains that Jerry Brown’s reversal of Leslie Van Houten’s 2017 parole grant did not violate due process, in an informal opposition submitted yesterday to California’s 2nd District Court of Appeal.

Van Houten’s attorney, Richard Pfeiffer, filed a writ of Habeas Corpus in January, 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. Superior Court Judge William C. Ryan upheld Brown’s reversal in June. Pfeiffer immediately sought relief from California’s 2nd District Court of Appeal.

In early October, the Court of Appeal gave the attorney general 30 days to file opposition to the writ.

Upon receiving the informal opposition submitted by the attorney general, Pfeiffer submitted an informal reply with the court.

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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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