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Martin v. Symmes

United States Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit

April 6, 2015

LaMonte Rydell Martin, Petitioner - Appellant
v.
Jessica Symmes, Warden, Oak Park Heights Facility, Minnesota, Defendant - Appellee, Juvenile Law Center; Campaign for the Fair Sentencing of Youth; Children's Law Center of Los Angeles; Council on Crime and Justice; Defender Association of Philadelphia; ISAIAH; Juvenile Justice Project of Louisiana; Juvenile Justice Initiative; Legal Rights Center; National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers; National Center for Youth Law; National Juvenile Defender Center; National Juvenile Justice Network; National Legal Aid & Defender Association; the Orleans Public Defenders; the Pacific Juvenile Defender Center; the Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia; Rutgers School of Law - Camden Children's Justice Clinic; San Francisco Office of the Public Defender; Youth Law Center; Stephen K. Harper; Kristin Henning; Frank Vandervort, Amici on Behalf of Appellant

Submitted November 12, 2014

Petition for certiorari filed at, 09/08/2015

Page 940

Appeal from United States District Court for the District of Minnesota - Minneapolis.

For LaMonte Rydell Martin, Petitioner - Appellant: Zachary Allen Longsdorf, Longsdorf Law Firm, Inver Grove Heights, MN; Bryan Allen Stevenson, Equal Justice Initiative, Montgomery, AL.

LaMonte Rydell Martin, Petitioner - Appellant, Pro se, Stillwater, MN.

For Jessica Symmes, Warden, Oak Park Heights Facility, Minnesota, Defendant - Appellee: Lee W. Barry, Assistant County Attorney, David C. Brown, Hennepin County Attorney's Office, Government Center, Minneapolis, MN; Matthew Frank, Assistant Attorney General, Attorney General's Office, Appeals Division, Saint Paul, MN.

For Juvenile Law Center, Cmpaign for the Fair Sentencing of Youth, Children's Law Center of Los Angeles, Council on Crime and Justice, Defender Association of Philadelphia, Isaiah, Juvenile Justice Project of Louisiana, Juvenile Justice Initiative, Legal Rights Center, National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, National Center for Youth Law, National Juvenile Defender Center, National Juvenile Justice Network, National Legal Aid & Defender Association, The Orleans Public Defenders, The Pacific Juvenile Defender Center, The Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia, Rutgers School of Law - Camden Children's Justice Clinic, San Francisco Office of the Public Defender, Youth Law Center, Stephen K. Harper, Kristin Henning, Frank Vandervort, Amici on Behalf of Appellant(s): Marsha L. Levick, Chief Counsel, Juvenile Law Center, Philadelphia, PA.

Before MURPHY, MELLOY, and BENTON, Circuit Judges.

OPINION

Page 941

BENTON, Circuit Judge.

A Minnesota jury convicted LaMonte Rydell Martin of first-degree murder, committed at age 17. Martin received a mandatory life sentence without possibility of release. The Minnesota Supreme Court affirmed and also rejected a challenge to the jury's composition under Batson v. Kentucky, 476 U.S. 79, 106 S.Ct. 1712, 90 L.Ed.2d 69 (1986). State v. Martin, 773 N.W.2d 89, 104, 110 (Minn. 2009).

Martin filed a habeas petition under 28 U.S.C. § 2254. While it was pending, the U.S. Supreme Court held that mandatory life sentences without parole for defendants who commit homicide before age 18 violate the Eighth Amendment. Miller v. Alabama, 132 S.Ct. 2455, 2460, 2475, 183 L.Ed.2d 407 (2012). The magistrate judge[1] ordered briefing, and Martin argued that Miller applied retroactively to him.

The district court[2] denied the petition, but granted a certificate of appealability on the Miller and Batson issues. Martin v. Symmes, 2013 WL 5653447, at *17 (D. Minn. Oct. 15, 2013). Having jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § § 1291 and 2253, this court affirms.

I.

In Miller, the Court relied on its prior juvenile-sentencing decisions. Miller, 132 S.Ct. at 2463, citing Roper v. Simmons, 543 U.S. 551, 578, 125 S.Ct. 1183, 161 L.Ed.2d 1 (2005) (categorically barring death sentences for offenders under 18) and Graham v. Florida, 560 U.S. 48, 82, 130 S.Ct. 2011, 176 L.Ed.2d 825 (2010) (categorically barring life sentences without possibility of parole for juveniles convicted of non-homicide offenses). " By making youth (and all that accompanies it) irrelevant to imposition of that harshest prison sentence, [a mandatory] scheme poses too great a risk of disproportionate punishment." Id. at 2469. Now, sentencers must " take into account how children are different, and how those differences counsel against irrevocably sentencing them to a lifetime in prison." Id.

Miller consolidated the appeals of Evan James Miller (on direct review) and Kuntrell O'Bryan Jackson (on collateral review), both of whom had received mandatory life sentences without parole for

Page 942

murders committed at age 14. Id. at 2460, 2461, 2462. See also Miller v. State, 63 So.3d 676, 691 (Ala.Crim.App.2010) (affirming Miller's mandatory life sentence); Jackson v. Norris, 2011 Ark. 49, 378 S.W.3d 103, 106 (Ark. 2011) (declining to extend Roper and Graham to non-death sentences for juvenile homicide defendants and affirming dismissal of Jackson's state habeas petition). The Miller opinion reversed both cases. Miller, 132 S.Ct. at 2475.[3]

A.

Generally, " new constitutional rules of criminal procedure will not be applicable to those cases which have become final before the new rules are announced." Teague v. Lane, 489 U.S. 288, 310, 109 S.Ct. 1060, 103 L.Ed.2d 334 (1989). It is undisputed that Miller announced a new rule and that Martin's conviction became final before Miller. " A new rule applies retroactively in a collateral proceeding only if (1) the rule is substantive or (2) the rule is a watershed rule of criminal procedure implicating the fundamental fairness and accuracy of the criminal proceeding." ...


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