Argued that appellant, sentenced to life without parole as a juvenile, is entitled to relief based on the second exception to the prohibition on filing a second or successive habeas petition, which allows a subsequent petition when it is premised on "a new rule of constitutional law, made retroactive to cases on collateral review by the Supreme Court, that was previously unavailable."
Argued that Colorado's mandatory statutory sentencing scheme for juveniles convicted of first degree murder is unconstitutional, pursuant to the United States Supreme Court's ruling in Miller v. Alabama.
Argued that Petitioner's sentence is the equivalent of life without parole because Missouri law requires him to serve a minimum of 92 years before becoming parole-eligible. This sentence therefore violates the United States Supreme Court’s ruling in Graham v. Florida, which held that juvenile offenders cannot be sentenced to life for non-homicide offenses without a meaningful and realistic opportunity for re-entry into society prior to the expiration of their sentence.
Juvenile Law Center and Center for Law, Brain and Behavior filed an amicus brief supporting Ahmad Bright’s petition for writ of certiorari in the United States Supreme Court. We argued that the opportunity for parole is not an adequate substitute for an individualized sentencing hearing as required by Miller and Montgomery. Furthermore, youth who are accomplices are essentially nonhomicide offenders and, under Graham v. Florida (2010), cannot be sentenced to life without parole sentences.
Juvenile and Criminal Justice, Juvenile Life Without Parole (JLWOP)
Amici argued that a life without parole sentence for a juvenile convicted of first degree murder under a theory of accessorial liability is unconstitutional under Graham because such a conviction is the equivalent of a nonhomicide crime since it does not require that the defendant kill or intend to kill.
Argued that California's sentencing statute, in which the presumptive sentence for any juvenile age 16 or older convicted of first degree murder with special circumstances is life imprisonment without the possibility of parole, is unconstitutional under Miller v. Alabama.
Argued that Petitioner Bunch's sentence is unconstitutional pursuant to the United States Supreme Court's ruling in Graham v. Florida, which held that juvenile offenders cannot be sentenced to life without parole without a meaningful and realistic opportunity to re-enter society prior to the expiration of their sentences for non-homicide offenses.
Juvenile Law Center was co-counsel in Montgomery v. Louisiana, a case recently decided by the U.S. Supreme Court holding that Miller v. Alabama (2012) applies retroactively to individuals serving mandatory juvenile life without parole sentences.
These briefs involved a thirteen-year-old student who was questioned by four adults, including a uniformed police officer, on school grounds regarding a series of break-ins. Juvenile Law Center argued that the student should have been considered in custody for Miranda purposes.
Supreme Court held the execution of juveniles unconstitutional. Juvenile Law Center’s brief argued the developmental differences between adolescents and adults in critical areas, including impulse control and understanding consequences.
One of the most important lessons from our 40 years of experience is that children involved with the justice and foster care systems need zealous legal advocates. Your support for our work is more important now than ever before.