Alabama court: Parole board testimony protected from lawsuit

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP)_People who testify for or against the release of an inmate before the Alabama Board of Pardons and Paroles can't be sued for what they say.

The Alabama Court of Civil Appeals made that ruling today.

The court ruled on a lawsuit filed by William Sullivan, an Alabama prison inmate serving a life sentence for a 1990 murder conviction in Montgomery County.

Sullivan was denied parole in 2003 after William and Karen Smith, the parents of his victim, testified at a hearing before the parole board that Sullivan  "never abided by the laws" before he went to prison, according to court records.

Sullivan acted as his own attorney and sued the Smiths, charging that their statement to the parole board was libelous.

The appeals court ruled that the actions of the parole board are "judicial in nature" and that testimony given during hearings is protected from lawsuit, just like testimony given during a court proceeding.

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