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Monday, May 27, 2024 | Back issues
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Juvie Life Sentence Case Taken Up by High Court

WASHINGTON (CN) - Louisiana's insistance on upholding life sentences for juvenile murders will face Supreme Court review, the justices said Monday.

Henry Montgomery is the Louisiana inmate whose case brings the issue to the high court, three years after the June 2012 decision Miller v. Alabama made it unconstitutional for courts to impose mandatory life sentences without the possibility of parole for juvenile murderers.

In the wake of Miller, the Louisiana Supreme Court refused to apply that precedent retroactively in the petition State v. Tate.

The court likewise shot down Montgomery's petition last year. Its chief justice dissented in both Tate and Montgomery.

In their petition to the U.S. Supreme Court, attorneys for Montgomery note that the inmate has been incarcerated since 1963, "serving a life sentence for the murder of Charles Hunt that he committed less than two weeks past his seventeenth birthday."

Montgomery's original sentence had been the death penalty, but he was sentenced to life without the possibility of parole on retrial in 1970.

The U.S. Supreme Court did not mention in taking up Montgomery's case Monday that it granted certiorari just a few months earlier to a case that presents a similar issue by death-row inmate George Toca.

Like Montgomery, Toca was sentenced to life in prison for a murder he committed at the age of 17.

Per its custom, the U.S. Supreme Court did not comment on Montgomery's case except to require that the parties "brief and argue the following question: 'Do we have jurisdiction to decide whether the Supreme Court of Louisiana correctly refused to give retroactive effect in this case to our decision in Miller v. Alabama.'"

Montgomery's petition asks: "whether Miller adopts a new substantive rule that applies retroactively on collateral review to people condemned as juveniles to die in prison?"

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