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Reynolds v. Bolling

United States District Court, M.D. Alabama, Northern Division

June 18, 2018

HOOVER REYNOLDS, # 133254, Petitioner,
v.
LEON BOLLING, et al., Respondents.

          RECOMMENDATION OF THE MAGISTRATE JUDGE

          Susan Russ Walker United States Magistrate Judge

         Before the court is Hoover Reynolds's (“Reynolds”) petition for writ of habeas corpus under 28 U.S.C. § 2254. Doc. No. 1. Reynolds challenges the state trial court's denial of his motion for reduction of sentence under § 13A-5-9.1, Ala. Code 1975.

         I. INTRODUCTION

         In 1984, Reynolds was sentenced as a habitual offender to life in prison without parole by the Circuit Court of Montgomery County after he was convicted of first-degree robbery. Reynolds's conviction and sentence were affirmed on direct appeal. In the ensuing years, Reynolds filed several unsuccessful federal habeas petitions challenging his conviction and sentence.[1]

         In August 2007, Reynolds filed with the state trial court a motion for reduction of sentence under § 13A-5-9.1, Ala. Code 1975. Doc. No. 7-3 at 4-12. In Kirby v. State, 899 So.2d 968, 971-72 (Ala. 2004), the Alabama Supreme Court discussed which inmates were eligible to seek sentence reductions under § 13A-5-9.1:

Reading § 13A-5-9.1 in conjunction with § 13A-5-9 [Alabama's Habitual Felony Offender Act (“HFOA”)], it is clear that a sentencing judge or a presiding judge can resentence only two narrowly defined classes of habitual offenders: those who had been sentenced to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole under the mandatory provisions of the HFOA upon conviction of a Class A felony with no prior Class A felony convictions; and those who had been sentenced to life imprisonment under the mandatory provisions of the HFOA upon conviction of a Class B felony. Moreover, of those habitual offenders, the judge can resentence only those who are nonviolent offenders.
We conclude that the state's trial judges have the authority under the statute to determine whether a defendant is a nonviolent offender and that those judges are competent to make that determination based upon the nature of the defendant's underlying conviction, other factors brought before the judge in the record of the case, and information submitted to the judge by the DOC and the Parole Board concerning the inmate's behavior while incarcerated.

899 So.2d at 974.

         There are three threshold requirements for eligibility to have a sentence reduced under § 13A-5-9.1:

(1) the inmate was sentenced before May 25, 2000, the date the 2000 amendment to the HFOA became effective; (2) the inmate was sentenced to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole pursuant to § 13A-5-9(c)(3) and had no prior Class A felony convictions or was sentenced to life imprisonment pursuant to § 13A-5-9(c)(2); and (3) the inmate is a “nonviolent convicted offender.” An inmate must satisfy all three requirements before he or she is eligible for reconsideration of sentence under § 13A-5-9.1.

Holt v. State, 960 So.2d 726, 73435 (Ala.Crim.App.2006).

         On March 19, 2007, the trial court entered an order denying Reynolds's motion for reduction of sentence under § 13A-5-9.1. Doc. No. 7-3 at 32-35. Reynolds appealed, and on September 21, 2007, the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals issued a memorandum opinion holding that the trial court's denial of Reynolds's § 13A-5-9.1 motion was proper because Reynolds did not meet the threshold requirements for a sentence reduction. Doc. No. 7-6.

         Reynolds waited until September 22, 2016, to file this § 2254 petition challenging the trial court's denial of his § 13A-5-9.1 motion. In his petition, Reynolds argues that the trial court's denial of his motion for reduction of sentence constituted a denial of due process and equal protection of the law. See Doc. No. 1 at 6-7. Reynolds's petition constitutes a successive § 2254 petition challenging his underlying sentence to life without parole, and it is subject to summary dismissal because it was filed without the required appellate court authorization.

         II. ...


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