Election Section

Lawyers claim parole denial for convicted client is illegal

The Associated Press
Wednesday November 15, 2000

LOS ANGELES — Lawyers for a convicted murderer filed a lawsuit Tuesday seeking to overturn the governor’s decision denying him parole. 

The lawsuit, filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court, claims Gov. Gray Davis made an illegal and unconstitutional decision by reversing a parole date set by the state Board of Prison Terms. 

Robert Rosenkrantz, 33, has been serving a 17 years-to-life sentence for the 1985 murder of Steven Redman, a high school classmate who told Rosenkrantz’s father that his son was gay. 

The lawsuit claims Davis has a “blanket policy that all prisoners convicted of murder should never be paroled even though they are serving a sentence of life with the possibility of parole.” 

Herbert Rosenkrantz accused Davis of using his son as a political pawn 

“We cannot and will not stand by idly as you pursue your political objective,” the father said during a news conference outside a Van Nuys courthouse. ”... You need to distinguish, governor, between people who are dangerous and people who have paid their debt to society.” 

Davis has said he has no blanket policy against paroling murderers. 

However, the governor has come under pressure from inmates’ lawyers, certain lawmakers and judges for past refusals to grant parole in such cases. He overturned 11 parole decisions for murderers last year. 

In September, Davis granted his first-ever parole for a convicted murderer in the case of Rose Ann Parker, who shot her boyfriend in 1986 after he threatened to kill her, her son and her unborn child. 

Davis said at the time that the case “has all the characteristics of Battered Women’s Syndrome, a now legally recognized defense which was not available at the time of her trial.” 

On Tuesday, the governor’s office issued a brief statement in response to the Rosenkrantz lawsuit. 

“Mr. Rosenkrantz has committed a brutal crime. The governor has acted lawfully and properly,” spokeswoman Hilary McLean said. 

Advocates for Robert Rosenkrantz, who is from the Los Angeles suburb of Calabasas, claim he is a model prisoner who deserves parole. 

He has earned college degrees while in prison and has become adept at using computers. He has tutored other inmates and completed therapy for his violent impulses. 

He also has reconciled with his parents and has pending job offers. 

A parole board panel scheduled Rosenkrantz for release at his first hearing in 1996, but that decision was overruled on review by the state Board of Prison Terms. Davis reversed a second parole order a year ago. 

Under pressure from the courts, the state parole board voted in June to release Rosenkrantz in 2001, but the decision was never made final by the Board of Prison Terms. 

In September, Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Kathryne Ann Stoltz ordered Rosenkrantz released on grounds that he did not receive a fair parole hearing. The 2nd District Court of Appeal halted his release Sept. 15 until Davis made his decision. 

The governor rejected parole for Rosenkrantz on Oct. 28. His 12-page decision said the murder was not spontaneous, but a result of “careful preparation, rehearsal and execution.” 

Tuesday’s lawsuit was filed with Judge Stoltz by attorneys Rowan Klein of Los Angeles and Donald Specter of the San Quentin-based Prison Law Office. 

Stoltz must take some action on the lawsuit within 30 days, Klein said. 

“I expect this to go on and on,” he said. “I expect this case to go on to the appellate courts.” 

At trial, Rosenkrantz was acquitted of first-degree murder but convicted of second-degree murder and use of a gun.