Verrilli to Argue in Juvie Life Sentence Case

     (CN) – The Supreme Court on Monday announced that the solicitor general will participate in oral arguments as it considers whether its 2012 ban on mandatory life without parole sentences for juvenile murderers is retroactive.
     The case, Montgomery, Henry v. Louisiana, is expected to be one of the most controversial to be heard during the high court’s upcoming session.
     The motion granted Monday clears the way for Solicitor General Donald Verrilli Jr. to participate in oral argument as amicus curiae, enlarged the amount of time given to arguments in the case,and also authorized that divided oral arguments be held.
     The grant shows that 15 minutes will be set aside for arguments by the court-appointed amicus curiae; 15 minutes for the petitioner; 15 minutes for the solicitor general; and 30 minutes for the respondent.
     The court-appointed amicus curiae and petitioner will also each be permitted to reserve time for rebuttal.
     Henry Montgomery was found guilty and sentenced to death in 1963 for the murder of Charles Hunt, a crime he committed shortly after his 17th birthday.
     He appealed to the Louisiana Supreme Court, which overturned his conviction on the grounds of community prejudice. Montgomery received a new trial, but was against convicted, and sentenced to life without parole.
     In 2012, the High Court decided Miller v. Alabama in which the court held that the mandatory sentencing of minors convicted of murder to life in prison without parole violated the Eighth Amendment.
     In light of that ruling, Montgomery filed a motion in state court, asking that his now illegal sentence be voided; the trial court rejected Montgomery’s motion, as did the Louisiana Supreme Court, which held that the Miller decision does not apply retroactively.
     The U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear the case in March, narrowing the scope of its deliberations to the question of whether it has jurisdiction to decide whether the Louisiana Supreme Court correctly refused to apply the Miller decision retroactively.
     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.”
     As per their custom, the justices did not explain their decision to grant the motion.
     Since the Supreme Court’s decision in Miller, hundreds of cases similar to one brought by Montgomery have been filed. Some states have agreed to allow inmates to apply for re-sentencing hearings, while others have not.

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