November 19, 2003

Jenner & Block recently persuaded the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit to order a parole hearing for a pro bono client who had been improperly denied a hearing by the Federal Bureau of Prisons on two occasions.

In 1989, the District Court of Nevada sentenced the Firm’s client, Ernest Traslavina, to a 25 year sentence of a 15 year parolable term and a consecutive 10 year non-parolable term.  Mr. Traslavina was initially informed by the Federal Bureau of Prisons that he would be paroled in November 1999.

In 1992, the government persuaded the Firm’s client, who was then without counsel, to sign a waiver of his 1994 parole hearing saying that he would become eligible to return to the community in 1999.  However, 25 days before his November 19, 1999 release date, and after Mr. Traslavina’s release plans had already been set in motion and investigated by the government, the Parole Commission then “paroled” Mr. Traslavina to his non-parolable sentence, saying he had ten more years to serve in prison.  By all accounts, Mr. Traslavina maintained an excellent institutional prison record during his detention.

The Third Circuit appointed Jenner & Block to argue Mr. Traslavina’s appeal of a lower court’s decision in favor of the Federal Bureau of Prisons.  On November 3,  Associate Stephen P. Baker argued to the court that the government should have paroled Mr. Traslavina in 1999 or allowed the Firm’s client to proceed with his November 1994 hearing, in which he might have been “paroled” at that time to his 10 year non-parolable sentence, and therefore he would have been released in 2001.

The day after Mr. Baker’s oral arguments, the court ordered the Parole Commission to give Mr. Traslavina a parole hearing within 30 days.

Partner Barry Levenstam supervised Mr. Baker.  Former Associate Jennifer McManus was instrumental in briefing this pro bono case.