Davis v. McCollum

Johnny Ray Davis was convicted of first-degree murder, for which he received a life sentence. After his state-court challenges to his conviction and sentence failed, Davis filed a pro se federal habeas petition alleging that: (1) his life without parole sentence violated the Constitution due to a “new standard [that had] been set in the U.S. Supreme Court” invalidating sentencing schemes mandating life in prison without possibility of parole for juvenile offenders; (2) his counsel was ineffective at trial and on appeal; and (3) as “a juvenile offender, [his] sentence of life without parole” was unconstitutional. The district court concluded that the last two issues were time-barred and that the first issue lacked merit because the case Davis claimed created a new standard, "Miller v. Alabama," (132 S. Ct. 2455 (2012)), was inapposite. The court thus denied habeas relief and denied a COA. The Tenth Circuit affirmed: "while Miller certainly reiterated the relevance of youth at sentencing as a general matter, Davis’s argument at best relies on an extension of Miller’s logic. Two dispositive conclusions follow from that: (1) because this version of Davis’s argument does not assert the new right actually recognized in Miller, it suffers from the same timeliness flaw as his petition’s other contentions; and (2) because the state post-conviction trial court rejected this argument, [. . .]deference applies, and we cannot say declining to extend Miller was contrary to or an unreasonable application of clearly established federal law as determined by the Supreme Court." View "Davis v. McCollum" on Justia Law