MICHAEL DRANKUS a/k/a MICHAEL F. DRANKUS
MISSISSIPPI PAROLE BOARD
OF JUDGMENT: 06/11/2015
COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT HON. W. ASHLEY HINES
ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT: MICHAEL DRANKUS (PRO SE)
ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEE: ANTHONY LOUIS SCHMIDT, JR. JAMES M.
NORRIS OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL BY: DARRELL CLAYTON
RANDOLPH, P.J., KING AND BEAM, JJ.
Michael Drankus, an inmate in the custody of the Mississippi
Department of Corrections, appeals the Sunflower County
Circuit Court's order dismissing his complaint and
request for declaratory judgment for failure to state a claim
upon which relief may be granted. Drankus requested a
declaratory judgment from the circuit court that newly
amended Mississippi Code Section 47-7-18 creates a liberty
interest in parole, and the parole board's 2015 decision
to deny Drankus parole and to "setoff" his next
parole hearing for three years, violated Drankus's
constitutional and statutory rights. We affirm the circuit
AND PROCEEDINGS BELOW
Drankus was convicted in 1987 of capital murder, robbery, and
residential burglary. He was sentenced to life imprisonment.
Drankus's parole-eligibility date was July 11, 1997.
Drankus was first released on parole on January 5, 2001. His
parole was revoked on March 21, 2006, for a number of
violations including operating a motor vehicle while
intoxicated and resisting law enforcement. Drankus was
released on parole a second time on May 31, 2007. His parole
was revoked on June 6, 2012, for violating numerous parole
conditions including assault on a law-enforcement officer,
felony battery, and public intoxication. The parole board
granted Drankus another parole hearing on April 29, 2015, and
thereafter denied Drankus parole. The parole board setoff
Drankus's next parole hearing date for three years.
On May 18, 2015, Drankus filed a complaint for declaratory
judgment, in which he claimed he is entitled to a parole case
plan and is eligible for "presumptive parole."
Drankus asserted that he has a liberty interest in
presumptive parole and the parole board arbitrarily setoff
his next hearing for three years.
The circuit court dismissed Drankus's complaint for
failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted.
This appeal followed.
This Court addressed a similar claim in Cotton v.
Mississippi Parole Board, 863 So.2d 917 (Miss. 2003).
There, inmates filed a complaint in the Sunflower County
Circuit Court alleging that the parole board and its members
had abused their discretion in denying parole to these
inmates. Id. at 919. The complaint alleged that each
plaintiff had been denied equal protection and was subjected
to cruel and unusual punishment by the parole board's
repeated denial of parole. Id. The circuit court
dismissed the complaint with prejudice, finding that the
parole board has exclusive authority to grant or deny parole
under Mississippi Code Section 47-7-5. Id. at 920.
The circuit court found that each parole-eligible plaintiff
had received all that is constitutionally mandated, that
being a hearing. Id. All plaintiffs were given a
chance to present their reasons for parole, and the parole
board, using statutory factors, determined all to be
unentitled to parole at the time. Id.
On appeal, this Court found two justifications for the
circuit court's dismissal. Id. at 920. First,
the circuit court had no authority to adjudicate the matters
presented because there was no statutory mandate granting
circuit courts jurisdiction over appeals concerning the
denial of parole. Id. at 920-21. Thus, the circuit
court correctly dismissed the petition due to lack of
jurisdiction. Id. at 921. Second, this Court found
that, while a constitutional challenge can justify the