Showing posts with label sentencing. Show all posts
Showing posts with label sentencing. Show all posts

Monday, October 2, 2017

Cert. denied in State v. Brandon Moore

In December I wrote about State v. Brandon Moore, in which the Ohio Supreme Court held that a juvenile sentence for a non-homicide offense that exceeds the defendant's life expectancy violates the Eighth Amendment. It seems that roughly half the states that have confronted this question have found a constitutional violation, and half have not. (There are several other similar cases floating around out there.) One would think that the US Supreme Court will have to weigh in eventually.

But it will not weigh in on Moore. Today the court denied the state's cert. petition.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

No life without parole for juveniles

Today the Court released its long-awaited decision in State v. Moore, which asked whether a juvenile can be sentenced to a term that exceeds his life expectancy for non-homicide offenses. The answer is no; the Court held that such a sentence violates the Eighth Amendment. The Moore appeal was accepted more than two and a half years ago, and argued more than a year and a half ago.

I haven't yet had time to digest the full opinion--it's 77 pages, and includes dissents from each of Justices Kennedy and French, and a concurrence from Chief Justice O'Connor and Justice Lanzinger--but generally it's an application of the US Supreme Court's 2010 decision in Graham v. Florida, and its 2012 decision in Miller v. Alabama. Graham had held that a mandatory sentence of life without parole imposed on a juvenile convicted of a non-homicide offense violated the Eighth Amendment. Miller extended the same rule to juveniles convicted of homicides.

What sets Moore apart from Graham and Miller is that Moore's sentence was not mandatory. Moore, who was 15 when he was convicted for a series of crimes including aggravated robbery, rape, and kidnapping, all with firearm specifications, was sentenced to 141 years in prison. While this wasn't a de jure "life without parole" sentence, it was a de facto life without parole sentence. Today the Court held that such a sentence was unconstitutional.

Surely there is more to be said about this holding in the future, but Justice Sharon Kennedy's dissent points out that at least four other states (Louisiana, Tennessee, Arizona, and Virginia) have held that Graham should be limited only to cases in which an actual mandatory life sentence has been imposed. Meanwhile (at least) California, Florida, Iowa, Connecticut, Illinois, and Wyoming have held that Graham extends to cases similar to Moore's. The US Supreme Court will have to address this divide at some point.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

State v. Hand - juvenile delinquency cannot be basis for mandatory sentence

In State v. Hand, the Court held R.C. 2901.08(A) to be unconstitutional as violative of the due process clauses of the Ohio and US Constitutions. That statute provided that an adjudication as a delinquent child constitutes a prior conviction for purposes of mandatory sentence calculation. The Court held the statute unconstitutional because juvenile determinations are made by the court without the benefit of a jury, thus running afoul of Apprendi v. New Jersey. The Court left open the possibility that juvenile delinquency adjudications could nevertheless be factors considered by the sentencing court in its discretion. Justices Terrence O'Donnell, Sharon L. Kennedy, and Judith L. French dissented.