New opinion — prisoners have no right to parole, but court vacates dismissal of retaliation claim

Fantone v. Latini — prisoner civil rights — reversal — Greenberg

In a notable inmate-rights ruling, the Third Circuit today ruled that Pennsylvania inmates have no protected liberty interest in being paroled but reversed the dismissal of an inmate’s retaliation claim.

State inmate Phillip Lee Fantone was granted parole, but that grant was rescinded due to pending prison discipline against him. Fantone filed suit, alleging that his due process rights were violated by the parole rescission. He also alleged that a guard unlawfully retaliated against him by keeping him in restricted housing because he refused to confess to committing a crime in prison and filed a grievance against the guard.

The court today affirmed dismissal of the due process claims because it held that Pa. inmates have no liberty interest in parole. But it reversed dismissal of the retaliation claim because the inmate’s allegation was legally sufficient given the “proper deference [owed] to his pro se pleadings.”

Joining Greenberg were Vanaskie and Cowen. Arguing counsel were Peter Laun of Jones Day for the inmate and Kemal Mericli for the state.