People v. (ex rel. Day) v. NYS Dept. of Corrections & Community Supervision

Criminal Practice

New York Law Journal

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Justice Richard Lee Price

Day moved by writ of habeas corpus to vacate his parole warrant, and release from Department of Corrections and Community Supervision's custody. He claimed he was illegally detained as he was deprived the right to be present at a preliminary hearing due to observance of Friday rituals, citing his Muslim status. Day also argued a violation of the 14th Amendment. He failed to appear at a preliminary hearing, but a parole hearing officer conducted the hearing in absentia, finding probable cause existed that Day violated a condition of his release to parole supervision. Respondents conceded that conducting the hearing in absentia was improper, but argued affording Day another hearing was the proper remedy, rather than vacatur of the warrant and restoration to parole, as Day argued. The court found it "incomprehensible" that a parole officer and hearing officer both were ignorant of the basis for Day's refusal to attend the hearing. It ruled that nothing done was "inexcusable," noting religious observance was a legitimate reason for a hearing officer to not conduct a hearing in absentia. Day's writ was sustained and the warrant dismissed.

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