In 1987, Jeffrey Biggs was convicted of murder. A judge sentenced him to 25 years to life in prison with the possibility of parole. In 1988, California passed Proposition 89, which gave the governor power to reverse parole-board decisions involving prisoners locked up for murder.
Those two events intersected in 2005 when the parole board deemed Biggs fit for release, but Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger reversed that decision. Biggs challenged the legal grounds of the veto, claiming that it retroactively applied the law, violating the ex post facto clause of the Constitution.
On Wednesday, though, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against Biggs, affirming the decisions of the lower courts. Judge Jay S. Bybee, speaking for the three judges, wrote in the decision that ex post facto was not violated because “the term of the petitioner's sentence was the same before and after the implementation of review, and that the factors to be considered in determining whether to grant parole were left unchanged.”