State v. Graham
D’Amantae Graham, a Black youth, was sentenced to life without parole for an offense committed just one month after he turned 19 years old.
Juvenile Law Center filed an amicus brief in an Ohio District Court of Appeals in support of Mr. Graham arguing that the trial court failed to take into consideration the diminished culpability of older adolescents and emphasizing that a growing number of state and federal laws treat older adolescents like youth under 18. Our brief further argued that Mr. Graham’s harsh sentence exacerbates longstanding racial disparities in the application of criminal laws in Ohio and throughout the nation.
On February 1, 2022, Katrina L. Goodjoint, Staff Attorney at Juvenile Law Center, participated in oral argument on behalf of amicus before the Ohio District Court of Appeals. She argued that the Eighth Amendment prohibits a sentence of life without parole for older adolescents and that not considering youthfulness disproportionately increases the number of young Black men in Ohio prisons.
The Ohio District Court of Appeals held that the trial court abused its discretion by not permitting mitigation testimony from an expert witness at Mr. Graham’s resentencing hearing. The Court declined to address Mr. Graham’s argument that the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments prohibit a sentence of life without parole for older adolescents.
Katrina Goodjoint, Marsha Levick, Riya Saha Shah
Tiffany Faith, Marissa Lariviere