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Name: Moore v. Biter
Case #: 11-56846
Court: US Court of Appeals
District 9 Cir
Opinion Date: 08/07/2013

Graham v. Florida (2010) 130 S. Ct. 2011, which prohibits a life sentence for a juvenile nonhomicide offender, applies retroactively on collateral review. In 1991, 16-year-old Moore was tried as an adult for numerous forcible sex offenses with use of a firearm, along with other offenses. He was convicted by jury and sentenced to more than 254 years in state prison, in effect, a term of life without parole. The California Appellate Court affirmed the sentence; Moore did not seek review in the California Supreme Court. After the U.S. Supreme Court decided Graham v. Florida in May 2010, Moore filed state habeas petitions, arguing that his sentence was unconstitutional. The state appellate court held that Graham did not apply and Moore filed a timely federal habeas petition. The district court found that Graham was not retroactive on collateral review. Held: Reversed. Because Graham established a new rule of law, it is retroactively applicable on collateral review. (Teague v. Lane (1989) 489 U.S. 288.) The state appellate court’s denial of relief was contrary to the clearly established federal law set forth in Graham and, thus, meets the criteria for review under AEDPA. The Ninth Circuit found the nonhomicide crimes in Moore’s case materially indistinguishable from those in Graham, therefore the sentence was unconstitutional.