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September 23, 2010

Ninth Circuit rejects Eighth Amendment challenge to LWOP for second offense of child molestation

The Ninth Circuit has an interesting habeas sentencing opinion today in Norris v. Morgan, No. 08-35645 (9th Cir. Sept. 23, 2010) (available here).  Here is how it gets started:

Brach E. Norris was convicted by a jury of child molestation in the first-degree. Norris had also had been convicted of child molestation ten years earlier. The State of Washington’s “two strikes” law for repeat sex offenders provides for a mandatory sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole, and Norris was so sentenced.  Invoking the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment, Norris challenges his sentence as grossly disproportionate to his offense.

The Washington Court of Appeals denied Norris’s claim, holding his life-without-parole sentence not grossly disproportionate to his crime.  On habeas review, we decide whether the Washington Court of Appeals’s decision denying Norris’s claim “was contrary to, or involved an unreasonable application of, clearly established federal law.” 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d)(1).  We conclude that the decision was not contrary to clearly established federal law. Additionally, while finding the issue a close one, we conclude that Norris’s Eighth Amendment claim would fail even on de novo review, and thus need not determine whether the state appellate court decision involved an unreasonable application of clearly established federal law.  We affirm.

September 23, 2010 at 02:08 PM | Permalink


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interesting 10 years ago would have been 2000 so i know he would have been required to take and successfully complete a therapy class to keep him from reoffending. obviously if he's guilty he faked it. So good riddence.

and based on this from the opinion this guy is a real idiot!

"4Norris was also convicted of second-degree theft in 1999 and armed
robbery in 1976"

From where i sit this makes 4 strikes. idiot should have been tossed and the key lost in 99! BEFORE the first sex offence even happened.

Posted by: rodsmith | Sep 23, 2010 10:23:29 PM

whoops sorry seems 1st sex crime was in 1991 so happned between the armed robbery and the 2nd degree theft in 99

Posted by: rodsmith | Sep 23, 2010 10:25:48 PM

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