Constitutional Law

Courts ‘Flooded with Appeals’ After Supreme Court Decision on Juvenile Life Sentences


Juvenile-justice advocates plan to test the reach of a U.S. Supreme Court decision barring life-without-parole sentences for youths who commit crimes other than murder.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the May ruling in Graham v. Florida “has emboldened attorneys nationwide to push for shorter sentences for juveniles serving life sentences for murders.” The Reading Eagle reports that courts around the nation have been “flooded with appeals” since the ruling.

In a case argued before the Missouri Supreme Court last week, a lawyer for a St. Louis teen convicted of killing a police officer at the age of 15 argued that juveniles should not receive automatic life sentences for murder, the Associated Press reports. Antonio Andrews, now 18, was sentenced under a mandatory sentencing law that requires a minimum of life in prison for all murder offenders.

In another case, 73-year-old Joseph Ligon is challenging his life-without-parole sentence in a double murder committed in 1953 by a group of youths who were drunk and robbing people, according to the the Wall Street Journal and the Philadelphia City Paper. Ligon’s lawyer, Bradley Bridge, told the Reading Eagle that the person stabbed by Ligon didn’t die.

Related coverage:

ABA Journal: “What’s the Matter with Kids Today: A Revolution in thinking about children’s minds is sparking change in juvenile justice”

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