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Stacy Brant v. South Dakota Board of

February 8, 2012

STACY BRANT,
APPELLANT,
v.
SOUTH DAKOTA BOARD OF PARDONS AND PAROLES,
APPELLEE.



APPEAL FROM THE CIRCUIT COURT OF THE SECOND JUDICIAL CIRCUIT MINNEHAHA COUNTY, SOUTH DAKOTA THE HONORABLE WILLIAM J. SRSTKA, Jr. Judge

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Gilbertson, Chief Justice

CONSIDERED ON BRIEFS ON JANUARY 9, 2012

[¶1.] Stacy Brant challenges the partial revocation of his suspended sentence, alleging that he did not violate a condition and that he did not have fair warning that a violation may result in revocation of his suspended sentence. We affirm.

FACTS & PROCEDURAL HISTORY

[¶2.] Brant pleaded guilty to first-degree burglary for an incident occurring at a home in Sisseton, South Dakota, on March 23, 2009. At the change of plea hearing and sentencing on October 1, 2009, the court ordered the following:

Well the Court has accepted the plea . . . . And at this time the Court would sentence the defendant to serve 15 years in the state penitentiary with 13 years of that time being suspended. . . . He would further be required to provide a full and honest debrief as to the incident at 222 Main Street in Sisseton on March 23, 2009 to law enforcement. Giving the names of each person or persons involved and what that person's involvement was. He would further be expected to cooperate with law enforcement if he is requested to provide additional statements or sworn testimony. He would be expected to do that in a truthful manner.

[¶3.] Immediately after the hearing concluded, Brant completed his debrief with Sisseton Police Chief Jim Croymans, Court Services Officer Kraig Archer, and Brant's attorney, Kay Nikolas. The debrief was conducted under oath, with a court reporter present. After the debriefing, on October 8, 2009, the circuit court signed the Judgment of Conviction and Sentence of the Court. It provided: "It is further ordered that thirteen (13) years of the penitentiary sentence be suspended on conditions that . . . Defendant is to cooperate with law enforcement in all respects and is to make a full, honest and truthful de-brief with law enforcement regarding the 3-23-09 incident at 222 Main in Sisseton, SD."

[¶4.] Based on statements from other individuals, Chief Croymans and Archer did not believe that Brant was truthful in his debriefing. The State's attorney submitted documents supporting this position to the South Dakota Board of Pardons and Paroles (Board) on October 28, 2009. Based on this information, a violation report was filed in December 2009 for failure to comply with the Court Order to honestly debrief the incident.

[¶5.] The Board held a hearing in April 2010. Counsel for Brant argued that the circuit court's oral sentence did not say that Brant's suspended time could be revoked if he failed to comply with the truthful debriefing order.*fn1 Counsel also asserted that Brant was truthful in his debrief. The Board determined that Brant had violated the terms of his sentence and issued an order that six years and six months of his sentence be suspended instead of 13 years. Amended findings of fact and conclusions of law were issued.

[¶6.] Brant appealed the Board's decision to the circuit court. A hearing was held in February 2011. Brant made the same arguments to the circuit court as he had to the Board: that there was a due process violation because Brant did not have a fair warning that failure to truthfully debrief would cause his suspended sentence to be revoked and that he was truthful. The court issued a decision affirming the Board. Brant appeals, alleging that the Board and circuit court erred in determining that he was given a fair warning that a failure to honestly debrief would result in the loss of his suspended sentence, and that violated a condition of his suspended sentence.

STANDARD OF REVIEW

[¶7.] "Appeals from the Board are governed by SDCL 1-26-37." Acevedo v. S.D. Bd. of Pardons & Paroles, 2009 S.D. 45, ¶ 7, 768 N.W.2d 155, 158. We therefore "review questions of fact under the clearly erroneous standard; mixed questions of law and fact and questions of law are reviewed de novo." Id. "Matters of discretion are reviewed under an abuse of discretion standard." Id.

ANALYSIS

[¶8.] As we noted in Grajczyk v. South Dakota Board of Pardons & Paroles, 1999 S.D. 149, ¶ 13, 603 N.W.2d 508, 512, "it is an essential component of due process that individuals be given fair ...


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