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August 15, 2006

Ninth Circuit uphold notable application three-strikes law

Anyone who worries too much about the Ninth Circuit being too liberal will be comforted by its ruling today in Taylor v. Lewis, No. 04-17517 (9th Cir. Aug. 15, 2006) (available here).  In Taylor, the court rejects a California inmate's Eighth Amendment challenge to his 25-to-life three strikes sentence.  Here is the court's opening pragraph, which highlights the nuanced way this issues was presented and resolved:

In this habeas case we review whether it was an unreasonable application of federal constitutional law for a California state court to decide that a "three strikes" sentence of 25 years to life for possessing 0.036 grams of cocaine did not violate the Eighth Amendment.

Jonathan Soglin has a lot more details here.

August 15, 2006 at 02:59 PM | Permalink


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"In addition to Taylor’s present conviction for felony possession of a controlled substance, his criminal record is lengthy and includes the following felonies: second-degree burglary; robbery with the use of a firearm; vehicle theft; and voluntary manslaughter with a weapon-use enhancement."

Lockyer v. Andrade, 538 U.S. 63 (2003) and AEDPA pretty much shut down Eighth Amendment challenges to California Three Strikes sentences on federal habeas corpus. The Taylor decision does not indicate that the Ninth Circuit is not "liberal"; it indicates that no one on this panel is unprincipled enough to defy clearly controlling authority.

Posted by: Kent Scheidegger | Aug 16, 2006 2:05:11 PM

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