HUGE victory for lifers, parole, and cruel and unusual punishment

THANK GOODNESS. The California Supreme Court held today in In re Palmer (S256149) that a lifer’s sentence, while not cruel and unusual when imposed, can become cruel and unusual if the board continues to deny parole. Here, the petitioner was denied parole 10 times, w/a life sentence for a non-homicide crime committed as a juvenile. The First District held that he was entitled to release and to be entirely discharged from parole. (Note, while his habeas petition was pending parole granted him release.) The California Supreme Court technically reversed on the tangential issue about his discharge from parole. Although, they did say someone could argue that they should also be discharged from parole because that, too, had become cruel and unusual. Most importantly, though, the Supremes agreed that a lifer may show that his sentence has become cruel and unusual if the board is all: denied, denied, denied, denied, denied, denied, denied, denied, denied, denied.

So congrats Mr. Palmer and hoping this helps my lifer clients.


“We agree with the Court of Appeal that habeas corpus
relief is available to inmates whose continued incarceration has
become constitutionally excessive, but who have been denied
release by the Board. To the extent Palmer’s continued
incarceration at some point became constitutionally excessive,
though, that alone did not justify ending his parole under the
current statutory scheme. We therefore reverse the judgment
of the Court of Appeal.”

Published by Jenny Brandt

About Me: sociology, african american studies, chicano/a studies, critical race studies, and criminal law scholar. public school kid from kindergarten-J.D. Former public defender. I am a post-conviction guru. Appeals. Sentencing. Withdraw Pleas. Habeas. Published author in the Criminal Law Bulletin and California Defender. "I do it for the joy it brings, because I'm a joyful girl, because the world owes me nothing, and we owe each other the world." Why I started JJC: My PD buddy suggested it. What and who JJC is inspired by: public defenders I have worked for, with, and next to. my clients who have battled things no one should and are still here. innocence and guilt and everything in between. My coworkers, who fight just as hard as the PDs I love, for many of the same reasons. My husband who was once voted "most Christ like" (every Jewish girl's dream). My Corgi who loves everyone. The constitution. Tabloids. My mom, for giving me a voice. My dad, for teaching me what to say. My brother, for teaching me how to say it.

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