People v. House
Antonio House was convicted of murder and sentenced to life without parole under Illinois’ broad accountability statute for his participation as a lookout when he was 19.
Juvenile Law Center, Children and Family Justice Center, and Center for Law, Brain and Behavior filed an amicus brief in the Illinois Supreme Court in support of Antonio, arguing that the mandatory imposition of life without parole on emerging adults violates the Eighth Amendment and the Illinois Constitution. We argued that emerging adults possess the same developmental characteristics of youth that were relied upon in Roper and its progeny, and are thus less deserving of the harshest punishments. We further argued that mandatory life without parole imposed on emerging adults under an accountability theory of liability results in disproportionate sentences in violation of the proportionate penalties clause of the Illinois Constitution. Lastly, our brief emphasized the growing statewide, national, and international consensus that the line between childhood and adulthood should be set above 18.
The Illinois Supreme Court found that the lower appellate court “erroneously held that [Mr. House’s] sentence of natural life violated the proportionate penalties clause of the Illinois Constitution,” as he did not provide “any evidence relating to how the evolving science on juvenile maturity and brain development applies to his specific facts and circumstances.” The Court additionally vacated the appellate court’s holding affirming the dismissal of Mr. House’s actual innocence claim, and the case was remanded to the trial court for further proceedings.