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Landry v. Baskerville

United States District Court, E.D. Virginia, Richmond Division

March 31, 2014

HOLLY MICHELLE LANDRY, Petitioner,
v.
PHYLLIS A. BASKERVILLE, Respondent.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

M. HANNAH LAUCK, Magistrate Judge.

Holly Michelle Landry, a Virginia inmate proceeding by counsel, submitted this successive petition pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 2254 and 2244(b)(2)(A) ("Successive § 2254 Petition").[1] Landry, who was sixteen at the time she committed her crimes, argues that her life sentence without the possibility of parole violates the Eighth Amendment[2] in light of Miller v. Alabama, 132 S.Ct. 2455 (2012).[3] (Succ. §2254 Pet. 8, ECF No. 2.) Landry contends that Miller announced a new, previously unavailable, rule of constitutional law, made retroactive to cases on collateral review, thus entitling her to relief. (Id. at 8.) Respondent moves to dismiss, arguing, inter alia, that Landry lacks entitlement to relief because the rule announced in Miller fails to satisfy the requirement of 28 U.S.C. §2244(b)(2)(A).[4] (Mem. Supp. Mot. Dismiss ("Mem. Supp.") 4, ECF No. 7.) The matter is ripe for disposition. The Court exercises jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 636(c)[5] and 2254.

Because Landry fails to satisfy the requirements of 28 U.S.C. § 2244(b)(2)(A) by showing her claim predicated on Miller "relies on a new rule of constitutional law, made retroactive to cases on collateral review by (he Supreme Court, " the Court will grant the Motion to Dismiss and will deny the Successive § 2254 Petition. 28 U.S.C. § 2244(b)(2)(A) (emphasis added).[6] Specifically, Landry fails to demonstrate that the Supreme Court's language in Miller constituted an explicit or implicit holding that the rule in Miller applies retroactively to cases on collateral review.

I. Procedural History

This Court provided the procedural history when ruling on Landry's first § 2254 Petition:

Landry was convicted in the Circuit Court for the City of Norfolk of capital murder, two counts of abduction, two counts of robbery, two counts of conspiracy, and malicious wounding. On February 11, 1998, the Court sentenced her to life imprisonment plus fifty years. Landry appealed her convictions to the Court of Appeals of Virginia which denied her petition for appeal on August 4, 1998. The Supreme Court of Virginia denied her petition for appeal on October 29, 1998.
On March 4, 2004, Landry filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus in the Circuit Court. The court dismissed her petition on May 25, 2004 as barred by the state statute of limitations. The Supreme Court of Virginia refused her petition for appeal on November 16, 2004.

Landry v. Wheeler, No. 3:05cv120, at 1 (E.D. Va. Mar. 29, 2006).[7]

On March 29, 2006, this Court found Landry's first § 2254 Petition time-barred, denied the petition, and dismissed the action. Id. at 4. On August 8, 2006, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit dismissed Landry's petition for appeal and denied a certificate of appealability. Landry v. Wheeler, 193 F.Appx. 261, 261 (4th Cir. 2006).

On May 30, 2013, the Fourth Circuit granted Landry authorization to file a successive habeas corpus petition. In re Landry, No. 13-247 (4th Cir. May 30, 2013). On June 6, 2013, Landry filed her Successive § 2254 Petition.

II. Standard for Successive § 2254 Petitions

A. Appellate Authorization

"AEDPA [The Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996] greatly restricts the power of federal courts to award relief to state prisoners who file second or successive habeas corpus applications." Tyler v. Cain, 533 U.S. 656, 661 (2001). "Before a second or successive application... is filed in the district court, the applicant shall move in the appropriate court of appeals for an order authorizing the district court to consider the application." 28 U.S.C. § 2244(b)(3)(A). In granting Landry authorization to file a second petition, the Fourth Circuit found that Landry "ma[de] a prima facie showing that the application satisfies the requirements of this subsection." 28 U.S.C. § 2244(b)(3)(C).[8]

The Fourth Circuit's prima facie determination that Landry satisfied § 2244(b) "is tentative in the following sense: the district court must dismiss the motion that [the Fourth Circuit has] allowed the applicant to file, without reaching the merits of the motion, if the court finds that the movant has not satisfied the requirements for the filing of such a motion.'" McLeod v. Peguese, 337 F.Appx. 316, 324 (4th Cir. 2009) (quoting Bennett v. United States, 119 F.3d 468, 470 (7th Cir. 1997)). This Court must examine Landry's claim " de novo '" and dismiss it if this Court finds it fails to satisfy the requirements of § 2244(b)(2)(A). In re Moss, 703 F.3d 1301, 1303 (11th Cir. 2013) (quoting Jordan v. Sec'y, Dep't of con., 485 F.3d 1351, 1358 (11th Cir. 2007)); see McLeod, 337 F.Appx. at 317-18 (affirming district court's dismissal of a successive § 2254 petition because the petitioner failed to satisfy the requirements of § 2244(b)(2) even where the Fourth Circuit previously granted authorization to file the successive petition).

B. Statutory Threshold for Proceeding in the District Court

Landry's Successive § 2254 Petition asserts entitlement to relief based upon one claim: Landry's mandatory life sentence without the possibility of parole violates the Eighth Amendment under Miller v. Alabama, 132 S.Ct. 2455 (2012). (Succ. § 2254 Pet. 8.) This Court must review Landry's successive petition to determine whether it complies with the requirements of 28 U.S.C. § 2244(b)(2)(A).

Title 28 of the United States Code, section 2244(b)(2)(A) states in pertinent part:

A claim presented in a second or successive habeas corpus application under section 2254 that was not presented in a prior application shall be dismissed unless-
(A) the applicant shows that the claim relies on a new rule of constitutional law, made retroactive to cases on collateral review by the Supreme Court, that was previously unavailable....

28 U.S.C. § 2244(b)(2)(A).

If the authorized successive petition "asserts a claim that was not presented in a previous petition, the claim must be dismissed unless it falls within one of two narrow exceptions." Tyler, 533 U.S. at 661 (second emphasis added). The relevant exception before this Court "is for certain claims relying on new rules of constitutional law." Id. at 662 (citing 28 U.S.C. § 2244(b)(2)(A)). Pursuant to this exception, the successive habeas petition must satisfy three requirements: "First, the rule on which the claim relies must be a new rule of constitutional law; second, the rule must have been made retroactive to cases on collateral review by the Supreme Court; and third, the claim must have been previously unavailable." Id. (internal quotation marks omitted). As explained below, Landry's petition must be dismissed because she fails to satisfy the second requirement.

For purposes of § 2244(b)(2)(A), "the Supreme Court is the only entity that can ma[k]e' a new rule retroactive." Id. at 663 (alteration in original). The Supreme Court explained in Tyler that "made' means held' and, thus, the requirement is satisfied only if [the Supreme] Court has held that the new rule is retroactively applicable to cases on collateral review." Id. at 662. In reaching this conclusion, the Supreme Court rejected the notion that the lower courts "have to engage in the difficult legal analysis that can be required to determine questions of retroactivity in the first instance." Id. at 664. As explained below, because ...


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