IN RE: DALLAS BULLOCK
MEMORANDUM. AN APPROPRIATE ORDER FOLLOWS.. SIGNED BY HONORABLE WENDY BEETLESTONE ON 11/22/17. 11/22/17 ENTERED AND COPIES E-MAILED TO COUNSEL.(pr, )
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF PENNSYLVANIA
MS. NANCY GIROUX, THE DISTRICT
ATTORNEY OF THE COUNTY OF:
PHILADELPHIA, and, THE ATTORNEY
GENERAL OF THE STATE OF:
Petitioner Dallas Bullock seeks habeas relief under 28 U.S.C. § 2254. In 2001, Petitioner
was convicted for murder in the first degree and a weapons-related charge and sentenced to life
without parole. Petitioner filed a petition for habeas corpus in 2014, contending that relief was
warranted under Miller v. Alabama, 567 U.S. 460 (2012). In Miller, the Supreme Court held that
“mandatory life without parole for those under the age of 18 at the time of their crimes violates
the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition on ‘cruel and unusual punishments.’” Id. at 465.
Petitioner’s briefing schedule was stayed in early 2014 because it was unclear at that time
whether Miller applied retroactively. However, by 2016, the Supreme Court held that Miller’s
prohibition on mandatory life without parole for juvenile offenders was retroactive on collateral
review. See Montgomery v. Louisiana, 136 S. Ct. 718, 735-36 (2016). In 2017, counsel was
appointed for Petitioner.
At a status conference on November 21, 2017, counsel for Petitioner explained that his
habeas application advanced four grounds of relief, all of which were premised upon Miller. But
Petitioner was over 18 when he committed the relevant offenses which, both the District
Attorney and counsel for Petitioner agreed, put him outside the aegis of Miller. Petitioner
himself nonetheless contended at the joint status conference that habeas relief was warranted
under Graham v. Florida, 560 U.S. 48 (2010) and Roper v. Simmons, 543 U.S. 551 (2005).
Given that Miller creates a bright-line rule where a mandatory life without parole
sentence is unconstitutional “for those under the age of 18 at the time of their crimes,” Miller,
567 U.S. at 465, Miller’s holding does not extend to Petitioner, who was either 19 or 20 when he
committed the relevant crimes. Thus, Petitioner has not shown a “violation of the Constitution
or laws or treaties of the United States” in support of his habeas application. 28 U.S.C. §
His citation to Graham and Roper is unavailing in that they do not apply to his
circumstances. See Graham, 560 U.S. at 67-75 (prohibiting imposition of life without parole
sentence on non-homicide juvenile offenders); 543 U.S. at 558 (prohibiting capital punishment
An appropriate order follows.
BY THE COURT:
/s/ Wendy Beetlestone
WENDY BEETLESTONE, J.
Further, even if this analysis did not dispose of the case, Petition has not exhausted his remedies in state
court. 28 U.S.C. § 2254(b)(1)(A). Under the exhaustion requirement, Petitioner must have “fairly presented” the
merits of his Miller claim to the state courts during “one complete round of the established appellate review
process.” See O’Sullivan v. Boerckel, 526 U.S. 838, 845 (1999). Although Petitioner has filed for collateral relief in
state court, he has not completed the appeal process by presenting his Miller claim to the Pennsylvania Superior
Court. Thus, the Miller claim is unexhausted.
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