Argued: January 29, 2019
from the United States District Court for the Western
District of Virginia, at Roanoke. Jackson L. Kiser, Senior
District Judge. (7:17-cv-00142-JLK-RSB)
Cahill, GEORGETOWN UNIVERSITY LAW CENTER, Washington, D.C.,
Brittany Marie Jones, OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL OF
VIRGINIA, Richmond, Virginia, for Appellee.
Hashimoto, Director, Aaron M. Steeg, Student Counsel,
Appellate Litigation Program, GEORGETOWN UNIVERSITY LAW
CENTER, Washington, D.C., for Appellant.
R. Herring, Attorney General, Victoria N. Pearson, Deputy
Attorney General, Laura Haeberle Cahill, Assistant Attorney
General, Toby J. Heytens, Solicitor General, Matthew R.
McGuire, Principal Deputy Solicitor General, Michelle S.
Kallen, Deputy Solicitor General, OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY
GENERAL OF VIRGINIA, Richmond, Virginia, for Appellee.
THACKER and RICHARDSON, Circuit Judges, and TRAXLER, Senior
THACKER, CIRCUIT JUDGE
appeal arises from the Virginia Parole Board's ("the
Parole Board") repeated denial of parole to Thomas
Franklin Bowling ("Appellant"). Appellant was
sentenced to life with parole when he was 17 years old. He
first became eligible for parole on April 26, 2005. The
Parole Board has considered his eligibility and denied him
parole annually ever since. Appellant alleges that, because
the Parole Board was not specifically required to consider
age-related characteristics unique to juvenile offenders when
it has processed his parole applications, the Parole
Board's repeated denial of his applications violated his
Eighth and Fourteenth Amendment rights.
ground, Appellant initiated this action against the Director
of the Virginia Department of Corrections
("Appellee"). Appellee moved to dismiss
Appellant's complaint, and the district court granted
Appellee's motion to dismiss. Regarding Appellant's
Eighth Amendment claim, the district court held that
juvenile-specific Eighth Amendment protections do not apply
to Appellant because he was sentenced to life with parole.
Regarding Appellant's Fourteenth Amendment claims, the
district court held that the Parole Board procedures satisfy
procedural due process requirements. For the reasons stated
below, we affirm the decision of the district court.
1988, Appellant was convicted of capital murder, robbery,
marijuana possession, and two counts of use of a firearm in
connection with his role in a botched robbery that resulted
in a homicide. He was sentenced to two life sentences, plus
six years and thirty days, with the possibility of parole. He
was 17 years old at the time.
2005, Appellant became eligible for parole. Every year since
2005, the Parole Board has considered Appellant's
eligibility for parole. Each of those years, the Parole Board
"review[ed] and evaluat[ed] . . . all available
information pertaining to [Appellant's] case" and
decided "not to grant [Appellant] parole." J.A.
83-103. Over the years, the Parole Board noted its
reasons for denying Appellant parole as follows:
• 2005-2007: "Serious nature and
circumstances of the crime." J.A. 37-39.
• 2008-2009: "Serious nature and
circumstances of the crime," and "Prior offense
history indicates disregard for the law." ...