October 3, 2014
State of Alabama
from Jefferson Circuit Court. (CC-93-1856.65).
Appellant: Luther Strange, atty. gen., and Lauren A. Simpson,
asst. atty. gen.
Appellee: Charlotte Morrison, Montgomery.
Judge. Windom, P.J., and Kellum, Burke, and Joiner, JJ.,
an appeal by the State of Alabama from an order of the
circuit court granting postconviction relief to Damien
Jenkins pursuant to Rule 32, Ala. R. Crim. P. Jenkins's
petition attacked his January 12, 1995, conviction for
capital murder, see § 13A-5-40(a)(18)(" murder
committed by or through the use of a deadly weapon fired or
otherwise used within or from a vehicle" ), Ala. Code
1975, and his February 14, 1995, sentence to life in prison
without the possibility of parole. The offense was committed
when Jenkins was 17 years old. On April 19, 1995, this Court
affirmed Jenkins's convictions and sentence. Jenkins
v. State, (No. CR-94-1054), 687 So.2d 225 (Ala.Crim.App.
1996)(table). On October 25, 1996, the Alabama Supreme Court
denied certiorari review, and this Court then issued a
certificate of final judgment. As best this court can
discern, Jenkins has previously filed five Rule 32 petitions,
all of which were denied.
January 3, 2013, Jenkins filed the instant Rule 32 petition
-- his sixth -- in which he argued that because he was 17
years old at the time he committed the capital murder, the
recent holding of the Supreme Court of the United States in
Miller v. Alabama, __ U.S. __, 132 S.Ct. 2455, 183
L.Ed.2d 407 (2012), rendered his sentence unconstitutional
and entitled him to a new sentencing hearing. On March 29,
2013, the State filed a motion to dismiss in which it argued
that Jenkins's petition was procedurally barred under
Rules 32.2(a)(3), 32.2(a)(5), and 32.2(b), Ala. R. Crim. P.,
and that the claim was without merit because the holding in
Miller is not retroactive. On April 5, 2013,
Jenkins filed a response to the State's motion in which
he argued that the holding in Miller is retroactive and that
his claim was not subject to the procedural bars raised by
the State. On August 2, 2013, the State filed an amended
motion to dismiss the petition in which it again argued that
Jenkins's claims were procedurally barred by Rules
32.2(a)(3), (a)(5), and 32.2(b), and again arguing that the
holding in Miller is not retroactive. On March 3, 2014,
the circuit court issued an order granting Jenkins a new
sentencing hearing pursuant to the holding in Miller. The
State now appeals.
appeal, the State reasserts the arguments raised below and
cites to this Court's opinion in Williams v.
State, [Ms. CR-12-1862, April 4, 2014] 183 So.3d 198
(Ala.Crim.App. 2014), as support for reversing the circuit
court's granting of the relief requested in Jenkins's
Rule 32 petition.
Court's opinion in State v. Boyd, [Ms.
CR-13-0489, June 13, 2014] 183 So.3d 236 (Ala.Crim.App.
2014), which is cited below, resolves Jenkins's appeal.
" In Miller, the Supreme Court of the United States held
that the Eighth Amendment forbids 'a sentencing scheme
that mandates life in prison without possibility of parole
for juvenile offenders.' Miller, U.S. at __, 132
S.Ct. at 2469. Rather, the Supreme Court said, juvenile
offenders are entitled to individualized sentencing, where
the sentencer takes 'into account how children are
different, and how those differences counsel against
irrevocably sentencing them to a lifetime in prison.'
" In Williams v. State, [Ms. CR-12-1862, April
4, 2014] 183 So.3d 198 (Ala.Crim.App. 2014), this Court held
that claims based on Miller are nonjurisdictional claims
properly raised in a collateral proceeding under Rule
32.1(a), Ala. R. Crim. P. ___ So.3d at ___. Further, this
Court held that, under the framework established in
Teague v. Lane, 489 U.S. 288, 109 S.Ct. 1060, 103
L.Ed.2d 334 (1989), the rule announced in Miller is a new
rule, and that it is not a substantive rule nor is it a
'watershed' procedural rule. ___ So.3d at ___. As a
result, this Court held that Miller is not subject to
retroactive application. ___So.3d at ___.
" '" A judge abuses his discretion only when
his decision is based on an erroneous conclusion of law or
where the record contains no evidence on which he rationally
could have based his decision." Miller v.
State, 63 So.3d 676, 697 (Ala.Crim.App. 2010).'
State v. Thomas, [Ms. CR-10-1401, May 25, 2012] 137
So.3d 933, 937 (Ala.Crim.App. 2012). Here, the granting of
Boyd's petition by the circuit court was based on an
erroneous conclusion of law because Miller does not apply to
cases, like Boyd's, on collateral review. See Williams,
___ So.3d at ___."
So.3d at ___.
circuit court abused its discretion in granting Jenkins's
petition, and its judgment is due to be reversed.
Accordingly, the judgment of the circuit court is reversed
and this cause is remanded for proceedings consistent with
P.J., and Kellum, Burke, and Joiner, JJ., concur.
On July 2, 2013, the circuit court held a
hearing on the instant Rule 32 petition. Jenkins's
presence was waived by his counsel. The victim's mother
presented a statement in support of Jenkins. The holding in
Miller was not discussed.