Legal Docket

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Youth Tried as Adults
U.S. Supreme Court •

Juvenile Law Center, Wicklander-Zulawski & Associates, Inc., and University of Virginia Professor of Law, Brandon L. Garrett filed an amicus brief in the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit on behalf of Brendan Dassey, the nephew of Steven Avery whose prosecution and conviction for the 2005 murder of Teresa Halbach were the central focus of the “Making A Murderer” 2016 Netflix documentary. On August 12, 2016, a federal magistrate judge granted Dassey’s petition, declaring his confession Involuntary under the “totality of circumstances” test and highlighted several aspects of Dassey’s interrogation resulting in his false confession: the investigators’ promises, assurances, and threats of negative consequences in light of Brendan’s age, his intellectual deficits, lack of experience with the police, the absence of a parent during the interrogation, and other relevant personal characteristics.

Juvenile Life Without Parole (JLWOP)
U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit •

We argued that mandatory life sentences imposed on children are disproportionate and therefore unconstitutional under the Eighth Amendment. Such sentences are incompatible with the penological goals of deterrence, retribution and rehabilitation.

Juvenile Life Without Parole (JLWOP)
U.S. Supreme Court •

Argued that Petitioner's sentence is the equivalent of life without parole because Missouri law requires him to serve a minimum of 92 years before becoming parole-eligible. This sentence therefore violates the United States Supreme Court’s ruling in Graham v. Florida, which held that juvenile offenders cannot be sentenced to life for non-homicide offenses without a meaningful and realistic opportunity for re-entry into society prior to the expiration of their sentence.

Juvenile Life Without Parole (JLWOP)
Washington Supreme Court •

We argued that research in adolescent development and neuroscience confirm that life without parole sentences categorically are unconstitutional when applied to children.

Juvenile Life Without Parole (JLWOP)
Maryland Court of Appeals •

We argued that Maryland's parole system is an unconstitutional ad hoc executive clemency system which fails to provide a "meaningful opportunity to obtain release" to youth sentenced to life or life equivalent terms.

Access to Counsel
Ohio Supreme Court •

We argued that juvenile adjudications are insufficient "to alone sustain proof beyond a reasonable doubt of an element of [an adult felony]" because it contradicts the rehabilitative purpose of Ohio's juvenile justice system.

Juvenile Life Without Parole (JLWOP)
U.S. Supreme Court •

We argued that Louisiana’s routine imposition of juvenile life without parole demonstrates the need for a categorical bar on the sentence which disproportionally punishes African-American youth.

Youth Tried as Adults
Washington Supreme Court •

We argued that a juvenile's right to due process is violated when he is automatically transferred to the adult system contrary to U.S. and Washington Supreme Court precedent articulating that youth cannot be mandatorily treated as adults.

Juvenile Life Without Parole (JLWOP)
U.S. Supreme Court •

We argued that Miller and Montgomery establish a presumption against life without parole, which requires a determination that a juvenile has no potential for rehabilitation prior to imposing a life without parole sentence.