• Van Houten Counters Attorney General Filing

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.”


Bobby Beausoleil Parole Hearing Date Moved Up

Saturday, May 19th, 2018


May 19 – Bobby Beausoleil’s parole hearing, tentatively scheduled for October of 2019, has moved up to January. Beausoleil last appeared before the California Board of Parole Hearings on October 13, 2016 and was denied parole for three years.

Beausoleil petitioned to have his hearing date moved up. In April, the board approved the request and a hearing has now been scheduled for Thursday, January 3, 2019.

Beausoleil, now 70, 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.

He has been found unsuitable for parole 18 times since becoming eligible in 1976.


Bruce Davis Hearing Postponed One Year

Tuesday, May 15th, 2018


May 15 – Bruce Davis’ parole hearing, scheduled for August 1, has been postponed. On May 2, Davis voluntarily waived his right to a hearing for one year, according to the California Department of Corrections.

According to his attorney, Michael Beckman, Davis will undergo hip replacement surgery and elected to postpone the hearing because he was uncertain when it would happen or how long the recovery time would be.

Davis, 75, is serving a life term at the California Men’s Colony in San Luis Obispo for his role in the 1969 murders of Gary Hinman and Donald “Shorty” Shea. He has previously been found suitable for parole in the past five consecutive hearings, but has seen all of those recommendations reversed by the governor during the executive review process.

His next hearing has tentatively been scheduled for August 2019.


Attorney General Defends Leslie Van Houten Parole Reversal

Monday, May 7th, 2018

May. 7 – Governor Jerry Brown’s reversal of Leslie Van Houten’s 2017 parole grant was supported by the record and did not violate due process, according to a brief filed by the California attorney general’s office.

The California Board of Parole Hearings 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 filed a writ of Habeas Corpus in Los Angeles Superior Court, challenging Brown’s reversal.

In March, Judge William Ryan ordered the attorney general to support Brown’s decision.

“The Governor’s decision satisfies state due process because some evidence supports his determination that Van Houten’s release to parole poses an unreasonable risk to public safety,” wrote Deputy Attorney General Jill Vander Borght in a response to the Superior Court, dated May 3. “Thus, the Governor’s decision must be upheld under the some evidence standard of review.”

Van Houten will have 30 days to file another brief with the court before a ruling is made.


Superior Court Requests Answer Regarding Van Houten Parole Reversal

Wednesday, March 7th, 2018

Mar. 7 – A Los Angeles County Superior Court judge has ordered the Attorney General of California to provide evidence that Leslie Van Houten is currently an unreasonable risk for parole. The Attorney General will have until March 31st to respond.

The California Board of Parole Hearings 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. In addition, Brown’s ruling stated that Van Houten had a history of downplaying her role in the murders.

“At her 2017 parole hearing, Van Houten claimed full responsibility for her crimes,” wrote Brown. “However, she still shifted blame for her own actions onto Manson to some extent, saying, ‘I take responsibility for the entire crime. I take responsibility going back to Manson being able to do what he did to all of us. I allowed it.’ She later stated, ‘I accept responsibility that I allowed [Manson] to conduct my life in that way.’”

On January 22, Van Houten’s attorney, Richard Pfeiffer filed a writ of Habeas Corpus in Los Angeles Superior Court, challenging Brown’s reversal.

“This is a Catch-22,” argued Pfeiffer. “If Ms. Van Houten fails to recognize the true facts how Manson controlled the cult, she has no insight and remains a risk of danger. If she does testify to that control, she shifts some blame to Manson and does not take full responsibility, and is denied parole for that reason. The Governor can’t have it both ways.”

According to Pfeiffer, Brown’s ruling is solely based on the murders themselves. Case law states that the Governor’s decision must be supported by some evidence of the inmate’s current dangerousness. The Governor must consider the same factors found by the Board of Parole Hearings. However, he is entitled to weigh them differently. Brown’s ruling cites a passage from the 2008 California Supreme Court opinion, In re Lawrence, which states “that certain conviction offenses may be so ‘heinous, atrocious or cruel’ that an inmate’s due process rights would not be violated if he or she were to be denied parole on the basis that the gravity of the conviction offense establishes current dangerousness.”

According to Brown, Van Houten’s case is just such a case. The Board of Parole Hearings disagrees. Parole Commissioner Brian Roberts discussed the legal standard from In re Lawrence at Van Houten’s parole hearing last September, stating that it perhaps applied to other members of the Manson family, but not to her.

“The Governor cites no evidence of a nexus between the commitment offense and a current unreasonable risk to public safety other than Ms. Van Houten recognized the power of cults, and in particular people like Manson who persuade others to act as he so orders,” wrote Pfeiffer. “That understanding is not a risk.”

UPDATED 3/28/18 – The Attorney General’s office will request a 30 day extension to file a return