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NACDL E-News

January 29, 2016; Vol. 15 No. 01

Supreme Court Ban on Mandatory Juvenile Life Without Parole Strengthened, Made Retroactive

In a case revisiting its landmark 2012 juvenile justice decision in Miller v. Alabama, on January 25th the United States Supreme Court ruled in Montgomery v. Louisiana that its holding in Miller prohibiting mandatory life without parole for juveniles is a substantive rule of Constitutional law and therefore retroactive in cases of state collateral review. Indeed, the Court emphasized its finding in Miller that it is a violation of the Eighth Amendment's prohibition on "cruel and unusual" punishment to mandatorily impose life without parole sentencing for juveniles. By its ruling, the Court resolves what had become a split in the state courts.

"Children are different. Full stop. We know this. Science has proven it. And today the United States has another important Supreme Court opinion holding that the criminal law must recognize it," said NACDL President E.G. "Gerry" Morris. "NACDL has proudly and diligently worked on Miller and Miller-retroactivity as well as numerous other juvenile justice issues for many years and with incredible coalition partners. NACDL will never relent in its work to ensure that age and other circumstances of youth be taken into account in order to ensure compliance with constitutional requirements and to promote fair, rational, and humane sentencing practices that respect the dignity of the individual."

NACDL was a co-amici on an important amicus curiae, or friend-of-the-court brief filed with the Supreme Court in this case. Indeed, NACDL has been joining together with allies filing in state courts across the country in Miller-retroactivity and other juvenile justice-related cases.

Learn more here about NACDL's work in the area of juvenile justice, including a series of practice-focused webinars entitled "Representing Juveniles at Sentencing in Adult Court in the Post-RoperGraham and Miller Era," supported by the Foundation for Criminal Justice.

The joint Amicus Curiae brief is available here. And NACDL's Amicus Curiae brief library is at www.nacdl.org/amicus.

Read more here.

Flawed Microscopic Hair Comparison Analysis Testimony Leads to New Trial for George D. Perrot

George D. Perrot was granted a new trial on January 27th in Massachusetts based on newly-discovered evidence that the FBI's microscopic hair comparison testimony contained scientifically invalid statements. The court found that the hair examiner's testimony was "enormously influential" and material to the convictions. This decision follows a trend in recognizing that evolving science constitutes newly-discovered evidence.

"The court found that the scientific errors identified by the FBI review constituted newly-discovered evidence, that the hair comparison testimony in Mr. Perrot's case would be inadmissible if offered today, and also that it was material to his convictions," said NACDL Senior Resource Counsel Vanessa Antoun. "This illustrates the critical importance of uncovering cases with invalid or exaggerated forensic evidence and providing meaningful notification—a duty to correct that the FBI and DOJ have acknowledged through this review, which sets an important new standard for law enforcement throughout the country."

The errors in the hair comparison testimony in Mr. Perrot's case were identified through the FBI's Review, conducted in conjunction with the DOJ and in partnership with NACDL and the Innocence Project. Mr. Perrot is the first defendant to receive a new trial as a result of the findings of the Microscopic Hair Comparison Review. His is one of over 1,500 cases that have been reviewed thus far. The result in this case underpins NACDL's commitment to finding representation for all effected defendants. Indeed, NACDL's important work in this area was cited by the Court in its order.

"NACDL looks forward to courts around the country recognizing that the results of the Microscopic Hair Comparison Review constitute newly-discovered evidence," NACDL President E.G. "Gerry" Morris said. "And we encourage all state labs to undertake their own review of the hair comparison work and testimony of all FBI-trained examiners."

Read more here.

Executive Committee Adopts Policy Concerning SEC’s Use of Administrative Proceedings
Since administrative proceedings before the Securities and Exchange Commission often parallel criminal investigations and prosecutions of the same respondents, which can negatively affect how these criminal matters are handled, NACDL's Executive Committee passed a resolution in favor of advocating for the imposition of "principled limits on the administrative remedies available to the SEC, taking into account the important due process considerations at stake." These limits include imposing clearly defined limitations on when the SEC may use administrative proceedings to adjudicate matters over which the federal courts have jurisdiction; creating a procedure whereby any party named in an administrative proceeding may remove the proceeding to a federal district court with proper jurisdiction; adopting clear and consistent policies that would reform the SEC's "Wells" process; adopting policies that would increase the fairness and minimize the burdens of the discovery process in SEC investigations and impose stricter rules on the admissibility of evidence; and restricting the ability of the SEC to share information gathered during the course of an investigation with the DOJ and FBI without the consent of the defendants/respondents. The resolution, which was endorsed by NACDL's White Collar Crime Committee, may be accessed here.
NACDL Partnering on Alternative Sentencing Summit

NACDL is partnering with the Aleph Institute and several other criminal justice advocates, including the Brennan Center and Right on Crime, to organize The Alternative Sentencing Key-Stakeholder Summit (ASKS).  The Summit will be held on March 7-8 at Georgetown University Law Center in Washington, D.C. The Summit aims to bring together key stakeholders in criminal justice to explore the application of alternative sentencing programs for reducing both incarceration and recidivism. Panelists and attendees will share perspectives on the issues and identify priorities regarding extending the use of alternative sentencing measures in practice and mitigating concerns over their broadened use.

NACDL is developing a bi-partisan panel to address collateral consequences of incarceration, in part based on key recommendations in our groundbreaking report Collateral Damage: America's Failure to Forgive or Forget in the War on Crime. Space is limited so register now at www.askssummit.com.

NACDL 2016 Election Notice
NACDL's 2016 election is underway. Individuals interested in running for officer positions or for the board of directors should consult www.nacdl.org/elections for information on deadlines and procedures.
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In Other News

Upcoming Committee Meetings
Dates and times for upcoming meetings will be posted here early on the week of February 1.

Upcoming CLE Events
View the Calendar

Recent Updates to Restoration of Rights Project
View Restoration of Rights Project

Employment Opportunities
View Employment Opportunities

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