California v. JacksonAnnotate this Case
Defendant Joseph Jackson sought a youth offender parole hearing under Penal Code section 3051 as a result of his conviction in 1998 that included two counts of first-degree murder with multiple special circumstances, which counts resulted in a sentence of two consecutive terms of life without the possibility of parole (LWOP). Defendant was 19 years old when he committed the homicides. In his October 2019 motion, defendant argued section 3051 violated his equal protection rights because he allegedly “is entitled to the same protections as any other person who violated the law at the same age whether it was murder without special circumstances, robbery, kidnapping or any other crime.” The trial court in November 2019 denied the motion, finding that defendant was statutorily ineligible for relief and that there was a rational basis for carving out from section 3051 offenders such as defendant who were convicted of first-degree special circumstance murder and sentenced to LWOP. On appeal, defendant reiterated his trial court argument that section 3051’s exclusion of persons over 18 years of age with LWOP sentences from its parole hearing provisions violated the constitutional guarantee of equal protection. Upon de novo review, the Court of Appeal concluded the carve out to section 3051 for offenders such as defendant serving a LWOP sentence for special circumstance murder was not an equal protection violation.