In The News

In The News

Friday, January 29, 2016

Juveniles Sentenced to Mandatory Life Without Parole Have Hope for Release Thanks to the United States Supreme Court

By Michael Nichols
Categories: Karen L. Phillips

The United States Supreme Court has decided that the rule that juvenile offenders sentenced to mandatory life sentences without parole on homicide cases is unconstitutional should be applied retroactively. Therefore, hundreds of prisoners in Michigan - as in any juvenile offenders sentenced to mandatory life - may now be eligible for parole. The ruling was issued recently by the Supreme Court in Montgomery v Louisiana, 577 US _____ (2016). This is not a blanket ticket out of prison for all juvenile offenders in that situation. Offenders will still be required to be reviewed by the authority overseeing parole for the department of corrections in each state to be determined if they should be approved for reentry into the community. Rehabilitation can happen in some of these situations, and those that are found fit may be released to prove that they have in fact been rehabilitated. It is sure that a lot of factors will come into play in such a determination.
The reasoning behind the initial decision in 2012 was that juvenile offenders are different than adult offenders because at the time of their crime they have the potential for “diminished culpability and greater prospects for reform.” Miller v Alabama, 567 US ____; 132 S Ct 2455 (2012). Not all juvenile homicide offenders are those “whose crime reflects irreparable corruption.” Id. They have a higher likelihood to become reformed to the point to be able to reenter into society and not commit the same type of crime or reoffend than those who were adults at the time of their crime.
Mr. Montgomery was 17 years old at the time he shot and killed a deputy in Louisiana. His sentence was mandatory to life without parole, and he was not able to on any evidence to mitigate the circumstances and how his age limited his ability to “foresight, self-discipline, and judgment; and his potential for rehabilitation.” Montgomery, supra. He had served almost 50 years in prison when Miller was decided.
If you know anyone in this situation or you would like further information, feel free to contact Karen Phillips at (517) 432-9000 or by email at Find out why we are committed to results.

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Mike Nichols is a national leader in drunk driving defense. He is a member of the Forensic Committee and Michigan delegate to the National College for DUI Defense. He is also a Sustaining Member of the College. Nichols is also a founding member of the Michigan Association of OWI Attorneys; a member of the American Chemical Society; an associate member of he American Academy of Forensic Science, Adjunct Professor of Forensic Evidence in Criminal Law and OWI Law and Practice at Cooley Law School. He is also author of the West OWI Practice book and several chapters in other books on science and the law.

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