Representing Juveniles at Sentencing in Adult Court in the Post Roper, Graham, and Miller Era

The recent landmark U.S. Supreme Court decisions in Graham, Miller and Jackson have greatly affected the sentencing of juveniles and all aspects of representing a juvenile client in adult court.

In Graham v. Florida, the U.S. Supreme Court held that it is unconstitutional to impose life without parole sentences for juveniles convicted of non-homicide offenses, largely because developmental and scientific research show that juveniles possess a greater capacity for rehabilitation, change, and growth than adults, and are less culpable for their criminal conduct. In Miller v. Alabama, the Court then held that mandatory life without parole for those under the age of 18 at the time of their crime (including homicide offenses) violates the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition on “cruel and unusual punishments.”

NACDL, in partnership with Juvenile Law Center, the National Juvenile Defender Center and the Campaign for the Fair Sentencing of Youth, and with support from the Foundation for Criminal Justice and the Ford Foundation presents a series of FREE webcast trainings on all aspects of these important new developments in juvenile law. The webcasts provide essential instruction for lawyers representing a juvenile at sentencing in adult court and lawyers handling the resentencing of an individual previously sentenced to juvenile life without parole. They are available online free for NACDL members and non-members as well, so please tell your colleagues!

9/14/12 ~ Lessons Learned from Graham v. Florida


Speakers: Stephen Harper, Carol KolinchakSonya Rudenstine  Moderator: Marsha Levick

9/14/12 ~ Re-sentencing Juveniles Convicted of Homicide Post-Miller


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Speakers: Stephen Harper, Paul Mones 

Session Topics
  • Investigation: what type of records to seek, strategies for getting old records, prison records, witnesses to interview
  • Experts: what type of expert is needed, and how to utilize them
  • Advocacy: tips on the hearing itself: taking all the information gathered to create and present a narrative, including how you handle the transition difficulty of adolescents/young adults during the early years in prison (a model argument will be presented)


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Stephen K. Harper

Stephen K. Harper serves as Co-coordinator of the Capital Litigation Unit in the Miami-Dade, Florida Public Defender‟s Office. He is primarily responsible for the gathering and presentation of mitigation evidence in capital cases. From 1989 --1995, he served as the Chief of the Juvenile Division. In 2002, he took a two year leave of absence to coordinate the Juvenile Death Penalty Initiative, a project ending with his oversight of the drafting and filing of amicus briefs in Roper v Simmons.

In 1998, he received the American Bar Association‟s Livingston Hall Juvenile Justice Award for "outstanding dedication and advocacy on behalf of delinquent youth." In 2005, he received the Southern Center for Human Rights‟ Frederick Douglass Award for "his demonstrated brilliance and tenacity in defense of human rights in the criminal justice system" and for his work on ending the juvenile death penalty.

Harper teaches the course Juvenile Law at the University of Miami School of Law.

Carol Kolinchak

Carol Kolinchak is currently the Legal Director at the Juvenile Justice Project of Louisiana ( Prior to joining JJPL, she was the Deputy Director of the Capital Post-Conviction Project of Louisiana (CPCPL). She has been representing indigent defendants in Louisiana since she began practicing law in 1993. For almost a decade, before joining CPCPL, Carol represented indigent defendants at the trial level in both state and federal court, primarily in capital cases, including a number of juveniles facing either the death penalty or mandatory life without parole. Most recently, in partnership with the Equal Justice Initiative, Carol coordinated development of Louisiana‟s litigation strategy for implementation of the United States Supreme Court‟s decision in Graham v. Florida.

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In addition to criminal defense, Carol has been involved in a number of cases involving the protection and preservation of the culture of New Orleans. Carol represented the New Orleans Social Aid and Pleasure Club Task Force as a cooperating attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union of Louisiana in a lawsuit against the City of New Orleans over excessive parade permit fees in post-Katrina New Orleans. She also was part of the negotiation team that successfully represented St. Augustine Catholic Church, the oldest African American parish in the United States, against efforts by the Archdiocese of New Orleans to dissolve the parish.

Carol is currently president of the Louisiana Chapter of the National Lawyers Guild. In addition, Carol serves on the Board of Directors for The Roots of Music, Resurrection After Exoneration and Project Rising Sun. She is a former board member of the Arabi Wrecking Krewe.

Carol is a 1993 graduate of Northeastern University Law School in Boston and has been a member of the Louisiana Bar since 1993.

Marsha Levick

Marsha Levick, Deputy Director and Chief Counsel, co-founded Juvenile Law Center in 1975. Throughout her legal career, Levick has been an advocate for children‟s and women's rights and is a nationally recognized expert in juvenile law. Levick oversees Juvenile Law Center‟s litigation and appellate docket. She has successfully litigated challenges to unlawful and harmful laws, policies and practices on behalf of children in both the juvenile justice and child welfare systems. Levick also spearheaded Juvenile Law Center‟s exposure and subsequent litigation arising out of the Luzerne County, Pennsylvania juvenile court judges‟ corruption scandal, known as the "kids for cash" scandal, where Juvenile Law Center successfully sought the expungement and vacatur of thousands of juveniles‟ cases before the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, and is pursuing civil damages for the children and their families in a federal civil rights class action.

Levick has authored or co-authored numerous appellate and amicus briefs in state and federal appeals courts throughout the country, including many before the US Supreme Court, and has argued before both state and federal appellate courts in Pennsylvania and numerous other jurisdictions. Levick co-authored the lead child advocates‟ amicus briefs in Roper v. Simmons, where the U. S. Supreme Court struck the juvenile death penalty under the Eighth Amendment; Graham v. Florida, where the U. S. Supreme Court struck life without parole sentences for juveniles convicted of non-homicide offenses under the Eighth Amendment; and J.D.B. v North Carolina, where the U.S. Supreme Court ruled for the first time that a juvenile‟s age is relevant to the Miranda custody analysis under the Fifth Amendment.

Levick is a frequent speaker and lecturer on children‟s rights nationwide, and has also co-authored numerous scholarly articles on children‟s rights, including zero tolerance policies, girls in the juvenile justice system, juveniles' right to effective counsel; the emergence of a juvenile Eighth Amendment standard; and the emergence of a "reasonable juvenile‟ standard in criminal law.

Levick serves on the boards of the Juvenile Justice Project of Louisiana; Southern Poverty Law Center; the advisory board of Rutgers-Camden Law School's Juvenile Justice Clinic; and the advisory board of Bureau of National Affairs Criminal Law Reporter.

Sonya Rudenstine

Sonya Rudenstine started her career as a staff attorney at the Equal Justice Initiative in Montgomery, AL, and now owns her own private practice in Gainesville, Florida. She handles primarily criminal appeals and post-conviction proceedings in capital and other serious felony cases. Sonya also serves as Co-Chair of the Amicus Committee for the Florida Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. In that capacity and others, she has worked extensively on developing litigation and other strategies to stem the erosion of quality defense for the indigent. Since the Supreme Court issued Graham v. Florida, she has served on both Florida and nation-wide task forces charged with the strategic implementation of Graham and, subsequently, Miller v. Alabama.

Paul Mones

Since 1980 Paul Mones has focused his legal practice and expert consulting on criminal and civil matters related to children‟s rights including child sexual abuse, patricide and matricide, general teenage homicide, the mental health treatment of children and adolescents and domestic violence.

The primary focus of his civil work has been on litigation against institutions in which children are sexually abused. These efforts included law suits against the Boy Scouts of America, the Catholic Church and other youth-serving organizations throughout the United States.

The primary focus of his criminal work is on patricide (the killing of a father) and matricide (the killing of a mother) cases. His book, When A Child Kills: Abused Children Who Kill Their Parents (1991) is considered a landmark book in the field.

Paul Mones began his child advocacy career in West Virginia in 1980 where he was the executive director of Juvenile Advocates Inc. During his years in West Virginia, Mr. Mones vigorously litigated against institutions which mistreated children and teenagers and in the process, he gave a voice to a population which had been largely neglected by the justice system. During three short years, he argued seven cases before the West Virginia Supreme Court concerning the rights of teenagers in the legal system in the state.

Paul also lectures nationally on youth issues to numerous professional organizations such as the American Bar Association, American Psychiatric Association, and American Psychological Association, National Association of Juvenile and Family Court Judges and the Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) program. He has also done professional training for numerous state child abuse groups, law enforcement organizations and the United States Army.