State v. Patrick

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Kyle Patrick was sentenced to 33 years to life, for a crime he participated in when he was 17, while his adult co-defendant received a sentence of only 13 years. Juvenile Law Center, The Office of the Ohio Public Defender, and other advocacy organizations filed an amicus brief in the Ohio Supreme Court in support of Kyle. Our brief argued that the imposition of any life imprisonment sentence upon a juvenile offender, including a life tail, imposed without considering youth and its attendant characteristics, is unconstitutional under the U.S. and Ohio Constitutions. We further argued that the future possibility of discretionary parole is not an adequate substitute for individualized sentencing.

In a win for youth, the Ohio Supreme Court held that a trial court must consider youth and its attendant characteristics before imposing a life sentence, even if that sentence includes eligibility for parole. The holding expands on the Court’s prior decision in State v. Long, 138 Ohio St.3d 478 (2014), that found, consistent with U.S. Supreme Court precedent, that youth must be considered before sentencing a child to life without parole. The U.S. Supreme Court has yet to apply its Eighth Amendment jurisprudence to life with parole sentences. “Certainly, before imposing a life sentence on a juvenile offender, there is room in our justice system for a trial court to make an individualized sentencing determination that articulates its consideration of the offender’s youth, and all that comes with it, before an old man is all that is left,” the Court held. The cause was remanded to the trial court for resentencing.