I’ve been pretty busy lately, but I wanted to take a moment to let you know that on September 17, 2013, the Florida Supreme Court held oral argument in a very important criminal appeal, Henry v. State, No. SC12-578. The issue is whether sentencing a juvenile to a sentence which is a de facto life sentence violates the Eighth Amendment, in light of Graham v. Florida, 560 U.S. 48 (2010). The Florida Supreme Court Gavel to Gavel Video Portal page summarized the facts as follows:
Mr. Henry was convicted of sexual battery, kidnapping, robbery, carjacking and burglary. The crimes were committed when he was 17. He was tried as an adult and sentenced as a sexual predator to life in prison plus 60 years. While his appeal was pending, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that juveniles sentenced for crimes other than homicide could not be denied the opportunity for parole. The trial court resentenced Mr. Henry to 90 years in prison. The Fifth District Court of Appeal affirmed the sentence.
I don’t know about you, but I find this issue extremely interesting. If you represent juveniles in criminal court, you really should take the time to view the recording of the oral argument by clicking here. Be sure to enter the case number in the lower right corner, under the “Search by Term” box. (For those of you who would rather have the Cliff’s Notes version, the majority of the Justices appeared to side with the attorney appearing for Mr. Henry, and the argument questions centered on the remedy, the lack of the possibility of parole, and what constitutes “meaningful review” under Graham). You can monitor the status of the docket by clicking here.