Montgomery v. Louisiana

Summarized by:

  • Court: U.S. Supreme Court Certiorari Granted
  • Area(s) of Law: Juvenile Law
  • Date Filed: March 23, 2015
  • Case #: 14-280
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Court Below: 141 S.3d 264 (La. 2014)
  • Full Text Opinion

Whether a ban on life sentences without possibility of parole to minors applies retroactively to sentences before the Supreme Court's 2012 landmark decision.

Petitioner has been serving a mandatory life sentence since 1963 for a murder he committed at the age of 17. In Miller v. Alabama, 567 U.S. ___,(2012), the Supreme Court decided that mandatory minimum sentences of lifetime without the possibility of parole violate the ban on cruel and unusual punishment as set forth by the Eighth Amendment.

Following this decision, Petitioner filed in State District Court, challenging his sentence as illegal. Trial court denied Petitioner’s motion, and Louisiana Supreme Court denied Petitioner’s application for review on the basis State v. Tate, 2012- 2763 (La. 2013), cert. denied, 134 S.Ct. 2663, 189 L.Ed.2d 214 (2014), which decided that Miller does not apply retroactively.

States are split on whether to apply Miller retroactively. Petitioner argues that the decision in Miller constitutes a substantive rule limiting a certain category of punishment on a certain class of person, as opposed to a procedural rule for sentencing. Substantive rules are to be applied retroactively upon collateral review due to the risk that a defendant may be subject to a punishment that the law cannot apply to him.

The Supreme Court granted certiorari and asks the parties to answer the additional 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, 567 U. S. ____ (2012)?"

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