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Name: In re Rainey
Case #: A138921
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 1 DCA
Division: 1
Opinion Date: 02/28/2014
Subsequent History: Review granted 6/11/2014: S217567

Miller v. Alabama (2012) 567 U.S. __, applies retroactively to cases on collateral review; newly enacted “recall procedures” for juvenile LWOP sentences do not moot the constitutional issue, as the procedures are not fully congruent with Miller. In 1999, Rainey, who was 16 years old at the time of the offense, was convicted of murder during the commission of a robbery; personal use of a gun was found true. He received an LWOP sentence. His judgment was affirmed on direct appeal. In June 2013, he sought habeas relief based on Miller, which held unconstitutional any sentencing scheme that “mandates life in prison without possibility of parole for juvenile offenders.” Held: Petition granted. Under Penal Code section 190.5, subdivision (b), LWOP is the presumptive punishment for a 16- or 17-year-old who commits special circumstance murder, unless the court finds good cause to impose a 25-years-to-life term. The pronouncement in Miller is retroactive under Teague v. Lane (1989) 489 U.S. 288, because it constitutes a new substantive rule—i.e., one that carries a significant risk that a defendant stands convicted of an act the law does not make criminal or faces a punishment the law may not impose upon him. The court noted that the relief granted in Miller was also accorded in a companion writ petition case (Jackson v. Hobbs (2012) 567 U.S. __). Here, the evidence did not reflect the trial court imposed an LWOP sentence in a presumptive manner. Nonetheless, it did not fully consider the Miller factors, related to the distinctive attributes of youth. The court rejected the Attorney General’s claim that section 1170, subdivision (d)(2) (enacted in 2012), which provides for recall of a juvenile LWOP sentence after 15 years, resolves the constitutional problems with Rainey’s sentence. This legislation predated Miller and is not fully congruent with Miller’s requirement that the special considerations attendant to youth be considered at the time of initial sentencing.