Sunday, November 24, 2013

Republic of Bolivia v. Philip Morris Companies, Inc. case brief

Republic of Bolivia v. Philip Morris Companies, Inc. case brief summary
39 F.Supp. 2d 10008 (S.D. Tex. 1999)

Plaintiff inmates and defendant state filed motions for summary judgment in plaintiff's action under 42 U.S.C.S. § 1983 for a declaration that Ga. Code Ann. § 17-10-7(c), as applied to them, was an ex post facto law which violated the U.S. Constitutional art. I, § 9, and for an injunction ordering the state parole board to consider plaintiff's eligibility for parole under the procedures formerly applicable to them.

Prior to the adoption of Ga. Constitutional art. IV, § II, par. II(b)(4), defendant parole board had not used Ga. Code Ann. § 17-10-7(c) to deny any inmate parole, on the theory that § 17-10-7(c) was an unconstitutional legislative usurpation of defendant's constitutional prerogatives. After the electorate ratified § 17-10-7(c) by the adoption of art. IV, § II, para. II(b)(4), defendant informed plaintiff inmates, who were recidivists by § 17-07-7(c) standards, that they were ineligible for parole.


  • Holding that the application of § 17-07-7(c) to plaintiffs violated the U.S. Constitutional art. I, § 9, ex post facto clause, the court granted summary judgment for plaintiffs. 
  • The court stated that the retroactive alteration of parole provisions implicated art. I, § 9, because parole eligibility was a determinant of a prison term and the effective term was altered once this determinant was changed. 
  • The court held that the important aspect of the case was the longstanding past practice of defendant. 
  • The court held that because the impact on plaintiffs was significant, and the change in policy was intended to increase the quantum of punishment to plaintiffs' disadvantage, it was unconstitutional.
The court granted plaintiff inmates' motion for summary judgment, because the change in parole provisions adopted by defendant parole board ex post facto unconstitutionally harmed plaintiffs. The court held that although the recidivist provisions of the code never had been adjudged unconstitutional on this ground, defendant's refusal to invoke them on separation of powers concerns established the parole provisions applicable to plaintiffs.

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