Biggs v. Sec'y of Cal. Dep't of Corr. & Rehab.

Summarized by:

  • Court: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: Habeas Corpus
  • Date Filed: 05-29-2013
  • Case #: 11-18021
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Circuit Judge Bybee for the Court, Circuit Judges Farris and Wallace
  • Full Text Opinion

Application of state Supreme Court precedent over United States Supreme Court precedent is not an unreasonable application of clearly established Federal law when there is no United States Supreme Court holding clearly establishing a requirement of as-applied analysis.

The district court dismissed Jeffrey Biggs' habeas corpus petition challenging the Governor of California's reversal of the parole boards finding Biggs suitable for parole. Biggs argued the decision was retroactive application of the interim change to the California Constitution allowing for gubernatorial review of parole-board decisions and therefore violated the Ex Post Facto Clause of the U.S. Constitution. Biggs was convicted of murder and sentenced to twenty-five years to life in prison with possibility of parole in 1987. In 1988 California passed Proposition 89 which authorized the Governor to review parole-board decision in any case which the prisoner had been convicted of murder. The parole-board found Biggs suitable for parole in 2005, those findings were reversed by Governor Schwarzenegger in 2006. Under the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 ("AEDPA") grant of habeas relief may only be granted when the state-court decision was "contrary to or involved an unreasonable application of, clearly established Federal law, as determined by the Supreme Court of the United States" or "was based on an unreasonable determination of the facts in light of the evidence presented . . ." A writ may be issued on appeal if the court finds the state court correctly identified the governing legal principle from the U.S. Supreme Court's decisions but unreasonably applied it to the facts of the particular case. The Ninth Circuit held that the U.S. Supreme Court did not intend for the as-applied analysis to be required. Therefore the state court's application of state Supreme Court precedent was appropriate, and not applying the U.S. Supreme Court precedent was not an unreasonable application of clearly established Federal law. AFFIRMED.

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