Our brief argued that the U.S. Supreme Court's requirement for a meaningful opportunity for release creates an identifiable liberty interest in parole for all juvenile offenders, and the Due Process Clause requires procedural protections, including the appointment of counsel in parole hearings, when such a liberty interest is at stake.
Our brief argued that the imposition of a mandatory life sentence on an 18-year-old violates the Eighth Amendment because young adults possess the same relevant characteristics as youth under 18 and courts post-Miller have consistently found older adolescents and young adults less deserving of the harshest penalties.
We argued that People v. Skinner misinterprets the constitutional mandates of Miller and Montgomery which establish a presumption against imposing life without parole sentences on youth and places the burden on the prosecution to establish that an individual is among the rare irreparably corrupt juvenile offenders for whom rehabilitation is impossible.
We argued that given youths’ general inability to pay bail, the risk of coerced guilty pleas, and the heightened danger of pretrial detention for youth, youth should receive a presumption of indigence to secure pretrial release.
Our brief argued that Houston-Sconiers, which held that sentencing court’s have authority to depart below the standard sentencing range when sentencing youthful offenders, established a substantive change in the law requiring retroactive application and further that a national consensus has emerged against applying mandatory sentencing schemes to youth. We further argued that the continued imposition of mandatory adult sentences on youth relies on an unconstitutional non-rebuttable presumption that a youth is as morally culpable as an adult.
We argued that under both the Federal and Washington Constitutions there is a presumption that age is a mitigating factor in sentencing when children are tried as adults and that the burden of proof should be on the prosecution to disprove the mitigating effect of age.
We argued that the proposed judicial expansion of the Child Protective Services Law to permit unreasonable searches of parents through compulsory urine drug screens during civil child welfare investigations violates both the Fourth Amendment and the Pennsylvania Constitution. We further argued that such an expansion would have a disparate impact on poorer people and people of color.