LeBlanc v. Mathena, No. 15-7151 (4th Cir. 2016)Annotate this Case
Petitioner was sentenced to life imprisonment without parole for a nonhomicide offense he committed at the age of sixteen. After Graham v. Florida was decided, petitioner sought postconviction relief but the state courts denied it. The court concluded that petitioner's state court adjudication constituted an unreasonable application of Graham where Virginia courts unreasonably ignored the plain language of the procedures governing review of petitions for geriatric release, which authorize the State Parole Board to deny geriatric release for any reason, without considering a juvenile offender’s maturity and rehabilitation. In light of the lack of governing standards, the court concluded that it was objectively unreasonable for the state courts to conclude that geriatric release affords petitioner with the “meaningful opportunity to obtain release based on demonstrated maturity and rehabilitation” Graham demands. Accordingly, the court affirmed the district court's grant of habeas relief and remanded so that petitioner can be resentenced in accordance with Graham and the Eighth Amendment.