Legal Docket

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Juvenile Life Without Parole (JLWOP)
Pennsylvania Supreme Court •

Juvenile Law Center, in collaboration with Defender Association of Philadelphia, Cozen O’Connor, Peter Goldberger, and Akin Gump Strauss Hauer and Feld LLP, filed a brief in the Court of Common Pleas, Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania on behalf of Mr. Ligon and other named defendants in support of the questions of law raised in General Court Regulation #1 of 2016 to be resolved by an en banc panel prior to re-sentencing the juvenile life without parole population. Since Pennsylvania, and Philadelphia in particular has the largest juvenile lifer population in the country, the court’s decision is likely to have a significant impact on many juvenile lifer re-sentencings.

Juvenile Life Without Parole (JLWOP)
Washington Supreme Court •
Our brief argued that courts must consider emerging research on youth brain development during sentencing, and Washington’s “Three Strikes” law should incorporate the Eighth Amendment’s requirement for individualized sentencing because the characteristics of youth relied upon in Roper and its progeny are still developing in older adolescents and young adults.
United States District Court, Eastern District of Pennsylvania •
Juvenile Law Center, Education Law Center, and attorneys from Dechert, LLC, filed a class action lawsuit against Glen Mills Schools and Pennsylvania state officials on behalf of hundreds of youth who suffered at the hands of Glen Mills leadership and staff.
Juvenile Sex Offender Registry (SORNA)
Pennsylvania Supreme Court •
Juvenile Law Center and Pennsylvania Psychiatric Society, along with pro bono counsel Ballard Spahr LLP, filed an amicus brief in the Pennsylvania Supreme Court in support of J.M.G. Our brief argued that effective psychiatric treatment requires absolute confidentiality and disclosing privileged communications between a psychiatrist and patient is never harmless error.
Pennsylvania Superior Court •
Our brief argued that J.L.’s removal violated Pennsylvania statute which requires that removal of a child only be used as a last resort and when clearly necessary to protect the child or the community. Our brief further outlined the ineffectiveness and long-lasting harms of residential placements on children. Finally, we highlighted research demonstrating that community-based services are effective in addressing truancy while preventing the harms of removal and placement.
Youth Tried as Adults
Texas Supreme Court •
Our brief urged the court to grant review and argued that “sophistication and maturity” is a term of art that requires interpretation according to the vast adolescent development science and research.
Juvenile Life Without Parole (JLWOP)
Arizona Supreme Court •
Our brief challenged the constitutionality of Mr. Helm’s lengthy sentence, arguing that the United States Supreme Court in Graham v. Florida and Miller v. Alabama requires sentencing courts provide system involved youth with a second chance to participate and engage with family and community, and individualized sentencing that takes account of the youth’s distinctive and hallmark developmental attributes.
Juvenile Life Without Parole (JLWOP)
Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court •
Our letter argued that Mr. LaPlante’s sentence is the functional equivalent of a de facto life sentence and therefore unconstitutional.