Lockyer v. Andrade

In Lockyer v. Andrade (2003) 538 U.S. 63, the petitioner stole five videotapes worth $84.70 from a store and, two weeks later, stole four videotapes worth $68.84 from another store. (Andrade, supra, 538 U.S. at p. 66.) He was convicted of two counts of petty theft with a prior conviction under section 666, and sentenced under the Three Strikes law to two consecutive 25-year-to-life terms. (Id. at pp. 67-68.) His criminal history consisted of convictions for misdemeanor theft, multiple counts of first-degree residential burglary, two counts of transporting marijuana, and a state parole violation--escape from federal prison. (Id. at pp. 66-67.) The defendant was convicted of two counts of petty theft with a prior based on taking $ 153.84 worth of videotapes from two stores on separate occasions. The defendant had at least two prior strike convictions. The court sentenced him under the Three Strikes law to two consecutive life terms. The defendant's criminal history comprised a 1982 misdemeanor theft conviction and a few felony burglary convictions; a 1988 conviction for transporting marijuana; a 1990 misdemeanor petty theft conviction and a second conviction for transporting drugs; in a 1991 parole violation. The defendant received a Three Strikes sentence of 50 years to life. (Id. at p. 68.) The defendant's two consecutive 25-years-to-life sentences, imposed for shoplifting videotapes valued at approximately $ 150, were upheld against an Eighth Amendment challenge. (Andrade, supra, 538 U.S.at pp. 66, 77.) Given these circumstances, the United States Supreme Court did not find the defendant's sentence to be unconstitutional. The United States Supreme Court observed that under "'clearly established Federal law, as determined by the Supreme Court of the United States,'" a sentence violates the Eighth Amendment proscription against cruel and unusual punishment if it is grossly disproportionate. (Id. at p. 71.) The court concluded that "the gross disproportionality principle reserves a constitutional violation for only the extraordinary case. In applying this principle . . . , it was not an unreasonable application of our clearly established law for the California Court of Appeal to affirm Andrade's sentence of two consecutive terms of 25 years to life in prison." (Id. at p. 77.) In Lockyer v. Andrade, the defendant was sentenced to a third-strike term of 50 years to life for two petty thefts with prior theft convictions. Andrade's prior criminal record was similar to that of Gordon. Andrade had several prior residential burglaries, a string of relatively minor nonviolent offenses, and a number of unsuccessful attempts at parole. His current offenses were relatively minor, the theft of videotapes of low monetary value. The high court stated that one governing legal principle emerges as "'clearly established'" federal law: "A gross disproportionality principle is applicable to sentences for terms of years." (Id. at pp. 72, 73.) The court held that it was not an unreasonable application of this principle for the California Court of Appeal to affirm Andrade's sentence. (Id. at p. 77.) Thus, if the reviewing court determines the sentence is not grossly disproportionate to the crime, which corresponds to the first Solem factor, no further analysis is required.The California Court of Appeal held that the sentence did not violate the Eighth Amendment. (Andrade, supra, at p. 69.) The United States Supreme Court held that the petitioner was not entitled to federal habeas relief because the California Court of Appeal's application of the "gross proportionality principle" was not unreasonable. (Id. at p. 77.)