Commonwealth v. Davis

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In 1981, Scott Davis received a mandatory sentence of life without parole for a crime he committed at the age of 15. Following the United States Supreme Court decisions in Miller v. Alabama and Montgomery v. Louisiana, Mr. Davis was resentenced 40 years to life and ordered to pay the costs of prosecution. Mr. Davis appealed his case to the Pennsylvania Superior Court which held in a memorandum opinion that Mr. Davis was not liable for the costs associated with his resentencing because the relevant statute in Pennsylvania, 16 P.S. § 1403, only applies to costs of trial and conviction, not sentencing. The ruling addressed “a question of substance not previously determined by the Superior Court or the Supreme Court.”


Juvenile Law Center joined the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania and other advocates on an amicus brief filed in the Pennsylvania Superior Court on behalf of Mr. Davis. The brief argued for publication of the opinion, to prevent unnecessary re-litigation in the future. Additionally, it argued that the issue was of substantial public importance, given the number of “juvenile lifers” being resentenced and the issues related to being released after extended periods of incarceration.

The court denied our Motion for Leave to File an Amicus Brief as moot, but granted the application for publication of the opinion.