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The State

Chief Justice Puts Murderer's Parole on Hold

April 03, 2002|JENIFER WARREN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

The chief justice of the California Supreme Court on Tuesday signed an order delaying--at least temporarily--the release of a prisoner who has challenged the governor's refusal to grant him parole.

The action by Chief Justice Ronald M. George means that Mark Smith will remain locked up until the full court can consider a lower court's order that he be freed.

Smith, 46, has served 17 years in prison for his role in the killing of Rick Diamonon, who was shot and then drowned.

Smith, who suffers from AIDS, was cleared for parole by the state Board of Prison Terms. Gov. Gray Davis reversed the decision, prompting a suit from Smith, who argues that Davis has a blanket policy of not paroling murderers.

Last month, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Keith L. Schwartz said there was no evidence to support the governor's action and ordered Smith freed. An appellate court then refused to block his release.

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