The Sun Sentinel ran a good story today that I wanted to pass along to other criminal defense and criminal appellate lawyers in South Florida. Martin James Malone fled to Ecuador before a jury convicted him of federal drug charges in 1990. According to the story, Malone made good use of his time while on the lam, acting as a “medicine, man” contractor, and overall good samaritan. His story is a great example of how people can make a change for the better after getting into trouble. Since even the prosecutor reportedly noted that Malone played a very small role in the 1989 cocaine-importing conspiracy, let’s hope that Judge Zloch’s sentencing will be fair.
Also today, the United States Supreme Court issued an opinion in Miller v. Alabama, No. 10-9646, where it held that “mandatory life without parole for those under the age of 18 at the time of their crimes violates the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition on “cruel and unusual punishments.’” In its rationale, the Court relied heavily on two other juvenile cases, one of which hits close to home for Florida’s criminal defense lawyers: Roper v. Simmons, 543 U. S. 551, 560, (2005) (invalidating death penalty for all juvenile offenders under 18), and Graham v. Florida, 560 U. S. –, (2010) (holding that life without parole violates the Eighth Amendment when imposed on juvenile nonhomicide offenders). As you’re reading the majority opinion, be sure not to skip the footnotes, as several point out the flaws in the dissenter’s analysis. I especially like footnotes 6, 8, and 10.