United States District Court, M.D. Alabama, Northern Division
JUDITH A. NEELLEY, Plaintiff,
CLIFFORD WALKER, et al., Defendants.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
KEITH WATKINS CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Judith A. Neelley was originally sentenced to death, but
Alabama Governor Fob James commuted her sentence to life
imprisonment with the possibility of parole. A few years
later, the Alabama Legislature made a class of its inmates
ineligible for parole. That class consists of exactly one
to Ms. Neelley, that change in Alabama law violated both the
ban on bills of attainder and the ban on ex post
facto laws in Article I, Section 10 of the U.S.
Constitution. She brings this action under 42 U.S.C. §
1983 against Defendants Clifford Walker, Lyn Head, and Terry
G. Davis in their official capacities as members of the
Alabama Board of Pardons and Paroles. Her claims are now
before the court on cross-motions for summary judgment (Docs.
# 80, 81) based on stipulated facts (Doc. # 77, at 2-11).
Those motions have been fully briefed. (Docs. # 81, 84, 85,
Alabama law at issue here retroactively enhanced the
punishment of only Ms. Neelley, so it is both an
unconstitutional bill of attainder and an unconstitutional
ex post facto law. Therefore, Ms. Neelley's
motion for summary judgment (Doc. # 80) is due to be granted,
and Defendants' second motion for summary judgment (Doc.
# 81) is due to be denied.
JURISDICTION AND VENUE
jurisdiction is exercised pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§
1331 and 1343(a)(3). The parties do not contest personal
jurisdiction or venue.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
succeed on a motion for summary judgment, the moving party
must demonstrate “that there is no genuine dispute as
to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment
as a matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). The court
views the evidence, and all reasonable inferences drawn from
it, in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party.
Jean-Baptiste v. Gutierrez, 627 F.3d 816, 820 (11th
party seeking summary judgment always bears the initial
responsibility of informing the district court of the basis
for its motion . . . .” Celotex Corp. v.
Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). This responsibility
includes identifying the portions of the record illustrating
the absence of a genuine dispute of material fact.
Id. Alternatively, a movant who does not have a
trial burden of production can assert, without citing the
record, that the nonmoving party “cannot produce
admissible evidence to support” a material fact.
movant meets its burden, the burden shifts to the nonmoving
party to establish - with evidence beyond the pleadings -
that a genuine dispute material to each of its claims for
relief exists. Celotex Corp., 477 U.S. at 324. A
genuine dispute of material fact exists “if the
nonmoving party has produced evidence such that a reasonable
factfinder could return a verdict in its favor.”
Waddell v. Valley Forge Dental Assocs., 276 F.3d
1275, 1279 (11th Cir. 2001).
for summary judgment will not, in themselves, warrant the
court in granting summary judgment unless one of the parties
is entitled to judgment as a matter of law on facts that are
not genuinely disputed.” Bricklayers, Masons &
Plasterers Int'l Union of Am., Local Union No. 15 v.
Stuart Plastering Co., 512 F.2d 1017, 1023 (5th Cir.
1975). “Nonetheless, cross-motions may be
probative of the non-existence of a factual dispute when, as
here, they demonstrate a basic agreement concerning what
legal theories and material facts are dispositive.”
Id. “‘[W]hen both parties proceed on the
same legal theor[ies] and rely on the same material facts[, ]
the court is signaled that the case is ripe for summary
judgment.” Shook v. United States, 713 F.2d
662, 665 (11th Cir. 1983). But “before the court can
consider the legal issues raised by the parties on
cross-motions for summary judgment, it must have no doubt as
to the relevant facts that are beyond dispute.”
Griffis v. Delta Family-Care Disability, 723 F.2d
822, 824 (11th Cir. 1984).
parties have stipulated to all of the material facts in this
case. (Doc. # 77, at 2-11.)
Neelley was convicted of capital murder in 1983 for murdering
Lisa Ann Millican. The trial judge described Ms.
Neelley's crime in great detail in his sentencing order:
The body of Lisa Ann Millican, age 13, was found in a gorge
known as Little River Canyon near Fort Payne on September 29,
1982. Lisa was a resident of the Ethel Harpst Home, a
Methodist home for neglected children located in Cedartown,
Lisa and five other girls from the home were taken by a house
parent on an outing to Riverbend Mall in Rome, Georgia on
September 25, 1982. While at the mall, Lisa became separated
from the others. During this separation, she was abducted by
[Ms. Neelley], who asked Lisa to go “riding
around.” Lisa hesitated at first, but then agreed. The
events which followed the abduction led to the death of Lisa
when [Ms. Neelley] shot her in the back on September 28,
1982, and threw her body into the canyon.
The abduction of Lisa Ann Millican was part of a bizarre
scheme whereby [Ms. Neelley] attempted to lure girls and
young women into the car with her for the ultimate purpose of
making them available to her husband, Alvin Neelley, for sex
with him. For several days immediately prior to Lisa's
abduction, [Ms. Neelley] and Alvin drove up and down Rome
streets in separate automobiles looking for girls who would
be suitable. When Alvin would see one who appealed to him, he
would communicate with [Ms. Neelley] by C-B radio, and [Ms.
Neelley] would invite the girl to go riding around with her.
Numerous girls refused [Ms. Neelley's] invitation; her
first successful pick-up was Lisa Ann Millican.
[Ms. Neelley] took Lisa to a motel in Franklin, Georgia where
she tried to persuade Lisa to submit to sex with Alvin, but
Lisa resisted. Finally, Alvin told Lisa that if she did not
submit to sex, [Ms. Neelley] would kill her. Following this
threat, Alvin engaged in sex with Lisa, and later that night,
Lisa was handcuffed to the bed to prevent her escape.
The next day, [Ms. Neelley] and Alvin, traveling in two cars,
took Lisa with them to Cleveland, Tennessee where they picked
up their two-year-old twins who were being cared for by
Alvin's mother. Later that day, they traveled to
Scottsboro, Alabama where they rented a motel room. Shortly
after their arrival at the motel, [Ms. Neelley] hit Lisa in
the head several times with a slapjack in an attempt to
render her unconscious, but she was unsuccessful in achieving
that result. Alvin then had sex with Lisa, and afterward Lisa
slept overnight on the floor, unclothed, and handcuffed to
The following day, Alvin had sex with Lisa twice more despite
her cries and pleas that he stop. [Ms. Neelley] was present
during these sexual encounters and at one point during the
day, she handcuffed Lisa to the plumbing in the bathroom and
interrogated her about a man she had appeared to know at a
dairy bar near the motel.
The next morning, Lisa was taken to Little River Canyon by
[Ms. Neelley] where [Ms. Neelley] instructed Lisa to lie face
down and place her hands around a tree. [Ms. Neelley] then
handcuffed Lisa's hands. She explained to Lisa that she
was going to give her a shot that would make her fall asleep
and that when she waked up, Lisa would be free to go. Using a
needle and syringe, [Ms. Neelley] injected Lisa in the neck
with liquid drain cleaner. When Lisa did not die in five
minutes, [Ms. Neelley] injected her again in the neck. She
injected Lisa four additional times, twice in the arms and
twice in the buttocks, waiting about five minutes after each
injection for Lisa to die. Twice during the infliction of
these injections, Lisa requested to get up and “use the
bathroom” in the woods. She was allowed to do so, and
each time she returned and resumed her position on the ground
with her hands around the tree.
Following the last injection, [Ms. Neelley] instructed Lisa
to walk around for awhile to hasten the work of the poison in
her body. When it finally appeared that Lisa was not going to
die from the drain cleaner, [Ms. Neelley] marched Lisa to the
rim of the canyon to shoot her in the back in a manner that
would cause her body to fall into the canyon. Lisa begged to
go back to the Harpst Home and promised not to tell what had
happened. [Ms. Neelley] told Lisa to be quiet and then shot
her in the back. Lisa fell backward toward [Ms. Neelley]
instead of falling into the canyon. [Ms. Neelley] picked up
the body and, using her knee, propelled it into the canyon.
During [Ms. Neelley's] trial testimony, she testified
that Alvin was present at the canyon directing her every
action. However, in an out-of-court statement made shortly
after her arrest, [Ms. Neelley] stated that Alvin was not
present at the canyon.
Five days after the death of Lisa Ann Millican, [Ms. Neelley]
picked up a young woman named Janice Chapman and her
common-law husband, John Hancock, from a street in Rome.
Later that night, [Ms. Neelley] shot John Hancock in the back
and left him for dead. He survived, however, and was present
at the trial to testify to the incident.
[Ms. Neelley] and Alvin took Janice Chapman to a motel in
Rome where Alvin engaged in sex with Janice. The next day,
[Ms. Neelley] killed Janice Chapman, shooting her once in the
back and twice in the chest. During [Ms. Neelley's] trial
testimony, she testified that Alvin was present during the
shooting of John Hancock and Janice Chapman and that he
directed her to shoot them; however, in her out-of-court
statement given shortly after her arrest, she stated that
Alvin was present when she shot John Hancock but that he was
not present when she killed Janice Chapman.
On October 9, 1982, the day before [Ms. Neelley's]
arrest, she picked up another young woman in Nashville,
Tennessee who was present with [Ms. Neelley] and Alvin in a
motel room in Murfreesboro, Tennessee on October 10, 1982
when [Ms. Neelley] was arrested on a bad check charge. Later,
this woman was released by Alvin unharmed.
Alvin was arrested in Murfreesboro on October 13, 1982, also
on a bad check charge. While [Ms. Neelley] and Alvin were in
custody on the bad check charges, additional charges were
placed against them arising from the murders of Lisa Ann
Millican and Janice Chapman, and the shooting of John
Neelley v. State, 494 So.2d 669 app. III 690-91
(Ala.Crim.App.1985) (including the trial judge's
sentencing order in an appendix).
the jury recommended (by a margin of ten to two) that she be
sentenced to life without the possibility of parole, the
trial judge sentenced Ms. Neelley to death. She exhausted all
of her state and ...