State v. James
Harry James was sentenced to life without parole for a crime committed in his early teens. Juvenile Law Center, along with Campaign for Fair Sentencing of Youth, and Juvenile Sentencing Project filed an amicus brief in the North Carolina Supreme Court in support of Mr. James.
Our brief argued that Miller creates a presumption against sentencing juvenile offenders to life without parole and that sentencing courts must consider an offender’s age and age-related characteristics as mitigating factors because the United States Supreme Court has recognized that children are categorically less deserving of the harshest forms of punishment.
The North Carolina Supreme Court modified and affirmed the Court of Appeals decision, holding that “the relevant statutory provisions do not incorporate a presumption in favor of a sentence of life without parole,” and remanded the case to the Court of Appeals “to the effect that N.C.G.S. §§ 15A-1340.19A to 15A-1340.19D incorporated a presumption in favor of the imposition of a sentence of life imprisonment without the possibility of parole upon juveniles convicted of first-degree murder on the basis of a theory other than the felony murder rule was erroneous.”