Nov. 8 – The California Supreme Court has requested the Attorney General provide evidence that Leslie Van Houten is currently an unreasonable risk for parole.
In April, the California Board of Parole Hearings, noting decades of favorable psychological evaluations and an exemplary prison record, recommended the 66 year-old Van Houten for release.
“After these 46 years, we looked for even a singular issue to demonstrate an indicia of evidence that creates a nexus to current dangerousness,” Commissioner Ali Zarrinnam told Van Houten in April. “There just isn’t one anymore.”
The decision outraged many and led to a campaign that culminated in victims’ family members hand delivering Governor Jerry Brown, upwards of a hundred thousand signatures from people opposing Van Houten’s release.
In July, Brown weighed in and reversed 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.”
In response, Leslie Van Houten’s attorney, Richard Pfeiffer, filed a writ of Habeas Corpus in Los Angeles County Superior Court. The fifty page writ outlined a history of inconsistent positions made by the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office; claimed the office withheld exculpatory evidence in denying access to the Tex Watson tapes; and challenged that the Governor’s decision to reverse Van Houten’s parole was not supported by the record. According to Pfeiffer, “The real reason for the Governor’s reversal is the name Manson.”
In October, Superior Court Judge William Ryan denied Pfeiffer’s writ, stating that there was “some evidence” to support Brown’s decision because of Van Houten’s lack of insight. Pfeiffer promptly filed another writ in the Appellate Court where it was also denied.
The issue is now before the state Supreme Court, who informed the Attorney General that the “petitioner has established a prima facie case for relief, such that this court should grant the petition for review, and transfer the matter to the Court of Appeal with instructions to issue an order to show cause.”
The Attorney General will have until November 23 to file an answer and the court will make a ruling on or before December 30.