Ex parte John Alfred Harper.Annotate this Case
John Harper, an incarcerated inmate, petitioned the Alabama Supreme Court to review the circuit court's denial of his latest motion for sentence
reconsideration. Harper was convicted in 1986 of first-degree armed robbery. Based on that conviction and a prior felony conviction, the circuit court sentenced him as a habitual felony offender to what in 1986 was a mandatory life sentence without the possibility of parole. Because the circuit court did not consider all the factors and evidence, including records of the Department of Corrections, that Harper presented with his "Kirby" motion, the Supreme Court concluded that the circuit court did not consider the totality of the circumstances. For the same reasons, the Court of Criminal Appeals erred in affirming the circuit court's order denying Harper's Kirby motion. The Supreme Court therefore reversed the Court
of Criminal Appeals' judgment and directed that court to remand the case to the circuit court for it to reconsider Harper's Kirby motion. "We note in conclusion that the window for the review of Kirby motions has been closing since the repeal of 13A-5-9.1, effective March 1, 2014. After 28 years of incarceration, Harper is faced with his last opportunity to take advantage of 13A-5-9.1. He has done exactly what a previous court said he
must do for reconsideration of his sentence as a current nonviolent convicted offender. Justice demands that he have an opportunity provided by that law for reconsideration of his sentence."