O'Neal v. The Commonwealth of Kentucky et al
MEMORANDUM OPINION & ORDER: 1. O'Neal's complaint 1 is DISMISSED WITHOUT PREJUDICE. 2. O'Neal's pending motion for reconsideration 9 is DENIED AS MOOT. 3. This action is STRICKEN from the Court's docket. Signed by Judge Gregory F. Van Tatenhove on 8/8/2017.(CBD)cc: O'Neal
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF KENTUCKY
COMMONWEALTH OF KENTUCKY,
Civil No. 3:17-cv-008-GFVT
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In 1997, when Cedric O’Neal was a juvenile, he committed murder and first-degree
robbery, and he was subsequently convicted of these crimes and sentenced to life in prison. In
2009, the Kentucky Parole Board interviewed O’Neal, but ultimately denied him parole and
deferred its next review for 144 months, until 2021. 1
Proceeding without an attorney, O’Neal has now filed a complaint with this Court in
which he named the Commonwealth of Kentucky, the Attorney General of Kentucky, and the
Kentucky Parole Board as defendants. 2 [R. 1]. O’Neal argues in his complaint that he is “being
cruelly and unusually punished in light of Montgomery v. Louisiana, 136 S. Ct. 718 (2016), and
being unlawfully detained under unconstitutional statutes governing parole eligibility.” [R. 1 at
5]. O’Neal requests a new parole hearing, and he asks this Court to declare Kentucky’s parolerelated statutes unconstitutional. [R. 1 at 5].
O’Neal’s complaint is unavailing. As an initial matter, there is no merit to O’Neal’s
Eighth Amendment claim because the Supreme Court case law on which he relies is clearly
The Court takes judicial notice of this publically-available information obtained from the Kentucky Department of
Corrections’ Online Offender Lookup. See Kentucky Offender Search, http://kool.corrections.ky.gov/KOOL/.
O’Neal has also filed a lawsuit regarding this matter in the Franklin Circuit Court in Franklin County, Kentucky.
[R. 1 at 9]. According to O’Neal, that state court action remains pending. [R. 1 at 9].
distinguishable from his case. In Miller v. Alabama, 567 U.S. 460 (2012), the Supreme Court
held that the Eighth Amendment prohibits a sentencing scheme that mandates life in prison
without the possibility of parole for juvenile offenders. Then, in Montgomery, 136 S. Ct. at 718,
the Supreme Court held that Miller applies retroactively. Thus, as the Sixth Circuit has
recognized, Miller and Montgomery only apply to mandatory sentences of life without parole,
see In re Harrell, No. 16-1048, 2016 WL 4708184, *2 (6th Cir. 2016), and, here, O’Neal did not
receive a sentence of life without parole. After all, the Kentucky Parole Board provided O’Neal
with a parole hearing and, when it denied him parole, scheduled him for a future hearing date.
[R. 1-1 at 1]. Thus, O’Neal’s Eighth Amendment claim is baseless.
O’Neal nevertheless argues that, while he can formally apply for parole, he is
functionally “serving a de-facto life without parole sentence due to the fact that Kentucky
statutes governing parole eligibility do not provide juvenile offenders a meaningful opportunity
for parole past resentencing as an adult.” [R. 1 at 5]. But O’Neal does not clearly identify which
statutes he is challenging or explain how those statutes run afoul of his rights. And while O’Neal
also claims that he was not given “a meaningful opportunity to prove rehabilitation” at his last
hearing, he neither alleges that he was prevented from presenting arguments or evidence at that
hearing nor explains how the hearing was otherwise legally deficient.
Accordingly, IT IS ORDERED that:
O’Neal’s complaint [R. 1] is DISMISSED WITHOUT PREJUDICE.
O’Neal’s pending motion for reconsideration [R. 9] is DENIED AS MOOT.
This action is STRICKEN from the Court’s docket.
This the 8th day of August, 2017.
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