State v. Scott

Jai’mar Scott was sentenced to 75 years in prison for a murder committed when he was 17 years old. Although a juvenile at the time of the crime, Mr. Scott received a sentence which was almost three times longer than the standard sentencing range for an adult who committed the same crime.

Post-Miller, Scott filed a motion requesting that his unconstitutional sentence be vacated and he be re-sentenced in compliance with Miller v. Alabama, 567 U.S. 460 (2012). The trial court granted his motion, but upon the State’s appeal, the court of appeals reversed, holding that Miller was not material to Scott’s unconstitutional sentence because a new Washington statute (RCW 9.94A.730) now allows Scott the opportunity to petition a sentencing review board for early release.

Juvenile Law Center joined with the American Civil Liberties Union of Washington and other amici to file an amicus brief in the Washington Supreme Court on behalf of Mr. Scott. Amici argued that Washington’s statute does not eliminate the need for Scott to obtain a re-sentencing that remedies his unconstitutional sentence.

The Washington Supreme Court held that "RCW 9.94A.730's parole provision is an adequate remedy for a Miller violation, rendering unnecessary the resentencing of a defendant who long ago received a de facto life sentence as a juvenile." In a concurring opinion, Justice McCloud highlighted that RCW 9.94A.730 "does not give the offender a resentencing hearing, and it provides no similar forum for a judge to evaluate the offender's age-related deficits at the time of the crime. The result of the majority's limited Eighth Amendment approach is that juveniles convicted of aggravated first degree murder get more protections post-Miller than juveniles, like Scott, who were convicted of lesser crimes—and that result would likely change under our own state's law."