State v. Long
In 2013, Juvenile Law Center filed an amicus curiae brief in the Ohio Supreme Court in support of Appellant Eric Long, who was sentenced to life without parole as a juvenile (JLWOP). In light of the United States Supreme Court's ruling in Miller v. Alabama banning mandatory life without parole sentences for juveniles, Mr. Long sought to have his sentence revisited.
Although Mr. Long’s life without parole sentence was discretionary, the sentencing judge did not take into account Mr. Long’s young age and reduced culpability before imposing a life without parole sentence. Juvenile Law Center argued that, to the extent that juvenile life without parole sentences are ever constitutional, the sentencing judge must consider the factors laid out by the U.S. Supreme Court in Miller before sentencing a child to die in prison. Specifically, the sentencer must consider the child’s young age and development; the extent of his participation in the offense, including any peer or familial pressure; the child’s family and home environment; his lack of sophistication in dealing with the adult criminal justice system; and his potential for rehabilitation. Juvenile Law Center argued that, because these factors were not considered before the judge imposed a life without parole sentence, Mr. Long’s life without parole sentence should be vacated, and he should be resentenced.
On March 12, 2014, the Ohio Supreme Court agreed with Juvenile Law center and ruled that sentencers must consider the youth of a juvenile offender as a mitigating factor before imposing a sentence of life without parole in light of Miller, and that Long's sentence must be overturned and his case must be remanded to the trial court for resentencing. At resentencing, however, the trial court again sentenced Mr. Long to life without parole. Mr. Long appealed to the Ohio Supreme Court.
In 2015, Juvenile Law Center filed an amicus curiae brief, urging the Ohio Supreme Court to consider Mr. Long’s appeal. Specifically, we argued that the court should clarify that Miller establishes a presumption against imposing juvenile life without parole; establish clear guidelines to ensure juvenile life without parole is not imposed arbitrarily and capriciously; and hold that juvenile life without parole can never be imposed when a juvenile is convicted based on a finding of “complicity.”
The Ohio Supreme Court declined to accept jurisdiction.