Case Caption: Meral Smith v. Employees of the Bureau of Corrections, et al.Case Number: S. Ct. Civ. No. 2015-0034Date: 03/07/2016Author: Hodge, Rhys S. Citation: Summary:

The Superior Court did not err in denying a petition for writ of mandamus in which the petitioner requested that the Director of the Bureau of Corrections be ordered to consider his application for parole. A petitioner must establish that his right to a writ of mandamus is clear and indisputable and that he has no other adequate means to attain the desired relief. Even if these two prerequisites are met, the issuing court, in the exercise of its discretion, must be satisfied that the writ is appropriate under the circumstances. Here the petiole has failed to establish that his right to a writ of mandamus is clear and indisputable. There is no constitutional or inherent right of a convicted person to be conditionally released before the expiration of a valid sentence. Thus, the fact that a jurisdiction provides a mechanism for parole does not mean that a person automatically obtains a right to be released. Nothing in 5 V.I.C. § 4601 provides that any inmate possesses a right to parole, whether early or otherwise. On the contrary, the statute expressly provides that an inmate may not even be considered for parole without the recommendation of the Director of the Bureau of Corrections, an act that requires exercise of discretion and judgment. The parole statute neither sets forth any factors that must guide the Director's exercise of his discretion, nor requires that the inmate be provided with an explanation of the reasons for not providing a favorable recommendation. Thus Virgin Islands statutory law provides only for discretionary parole, with no inmate eligible for parole until the Director of the Bureau of Corrections has first issued a favorable recommendation. Because such a recommendation is a discretionary, rather than a ministerial act, the petitioner cannot establish that his right to mandamus relief is clear and indisputable. Accordingly, the Superior Court's February 24, 2015 order dismissing this petition seeking a writ of mandamus is affirmed.

Attachment: Open Document or Opinion