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Latest News: Amicus Curiae Activity

Montgomery v. Louisiana

Wednesday, July 29, 2015  
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Court: United States Supreme Court

Topic: Retroactive Application of Miller v. Alabama Ruling Regarding Unconstitutional Life Sentences for Juvenile Offenders


In Miller v. Alabama, the United States Supreme Court ruled that mandatory life sentences are an unconstitutional punishment for juvenile offenders. This brief argues that the ruling should be given retroactive effect to juvenile offenders whose convictions were final prior to the Miller decision. Henry Montgomery is serving a life sentence for a crime he committed in 1963 at the age of 17. He sought state collateral relief after the Miller ruling, arguing that it rendered his mandatory life sentence illegal. The brief argues that the trio of the Court’s holdings in Roper v. Simmons, Graham v. Florida, and Miller require criminal sentencing procedures to account for characteristics inherent to youth to prevent the imposition of unconstitutionally disproportionate sentences. Juvenile offenders like Mr. Montgomery have a constitutional right to a proportionate sentence based on individual culpability, development, and maturity. As a new substantive rule of constitutional law and a watershed procedural rule, the brief concludes that the holding in Miller should be given retroactive effect in Montgomery.

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