Washington, DC (May 17, 2010) – The Constitution prohibits imposition of a sentence of life without parole on a juvenile offender who did not commit a homicide, the U.S. Supreme Court decided today. The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL) joined with the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund, Inc., and the Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race & Justice as amici curiae urging the Court to overturn the sentences of Florida inmates Terrance Jamar Graham and Joe Harris Sullivan, both of whom committed their crimes before their 18th birthdays. The Eighth Amendment prohibits cruel and unusual punishments such as sentences that are grossly disproportionate to the defendant’s crime, or imposition of the death penalty on juveniles and mentally retarded defendants.
The Court noted the special difficulties juveniles and their counsel face in court when children are tried as adults. “The features that distinguish juveniles from adults also put them at a significant disadvantage in criminal proceedings,” Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote for the majority, citing the associations’ brief. “Juveniles mistrust adults and have limited understandings of the criminal justice system. . . . They are less likely than adults to work effectively with their lawyers to aid in their defense.”
“Psychologists and neuropsychiatrists agree that children and teenagers are impulsive by nature,” NACDL President Cynthia Hujar Orr said today. “Their brains are not yet fully developed and they make mistakes, sometimes terrible ones. The Court recognizes that the same impulsiveness and rebelliousness that often get them into trouble and cause them to fail to appreciate the consequences of their conduct also make it more difficult for them to appreciate the consequences of being tried as adults and assisting in their own defense. Life without parole for juveniles is just as inappropriate as the death penalty is.”
The Court sent Mr. Graham’s case back to the Florida courts for further proceedings. Mr. Sullivan’s case was dismissed without explanation.
Pattern Cross-Examination for DNA and Biological Evidence: A Trial Strategy Guide
NACDL’s Pattern Cross-Examination for DNA and Biological Evidence will assist criminal defense practitioners in scoring points when cross-examining forensic experts in cases involving DNA and biological evidence. This resource contains thousands of questions that will help defense lawyers cross-examine challenging witnesses without reinventing the wheel with each new case. It includes pattern questions that can be used to dominate prosecution DNA experts and level the playing field at trial.
Cross-Examination of the Analyst in Drug Prosecutions (2nd Ed.) By James M. Shellow
Now in its second edition with some new material, James M. Shellow’s book offers what its title promises: ways of thinking about cross-examining the forensic analysts in drug cases. But the book is so much more than that. It offers a look inside the mind of one of the finest cross-examiners and defense lawyers the United States has produced in the last seventy years. This small book can inspire and direct you in making big changes in the way you defend your clients and think about the entire project of trying any case.
Justice For All, Justice Now White T-Shirt (Women’s)
This custom, vintage-faded NACDL t-shirt is 50% polyester, 25% cotton, and 25% rayon weighing 5.2 oz. and is lightwieght, flexible and soft, providing maximum comfort. It features the "Justice For All, Justice Now" slogan and Lady Liberty image on the front, with the NACDL logo on the back. Currently available in both men's and women's sizes in both black and white colors. View the full line-up of colors and sizes on our online store, as well as our other popular and best-selling t-shirt designs at: nacdl.org/store.
Drug Cases Resource Materials Collection - CD-ROM
NACDL’s Drug Cases Resource Materials Collection is the sweeping culmination of every single article of written materials ever published from each installment of NACDL's annual "Defending Modern Drug Cases" seminar. Totaling over 12,000 pages, this vast collection includes 12+ years of motions, briefs, reports, outlines, transcripts, case citations, scholarly articles, powerpoints and other written commentaries. This collection provides trial strategies and tactics you can immediately apply to your current cases.
Mental Illness & the Law: Addressing and Litigating Behavioral Health Disorders in Criminal Cases
Whether it is insanity, impairment, a disorder, or adolescent brain development; mental health and intellectual competence issues affect pretrial supervision, trial and sentencing, and your chances of successfully advocating for your impaired client. This training provides ideas and proven solutions to assist you in advocating for your client during trial, whether it be insanity defenses, jury selection, cross of expert witnesses, persuasion, or mitigation at sentencing.
NACDL Communications Department
The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers is the preeminent organization advancing the mission of the criminal defense bar to ensure justice and due process for persons accused of crime or wrongdoing. A professional bar association founded in 1958, NACDL's many thousands of direct members in 28 countries – and 90 state, provincial and local affiliate organizations totaling up to 40,000 attorneys – include private criminal defense lawyers, public defenders, military defense counsel, law professors and judges committed to preserving fairness and promoting a rational and humane criminal legal system.