Brief of Juvenile Law Center, Loyola Civitas Childlaw Clinic, et al., as Amici Curiae in Support of Defendant-Appellant (full list of amici in Appendix A to attached brief).
Argument: U.S. Supreme Court jurisprudence demonstrates that the automatic prosecution and mandatory sentencing of certain youth charged with murder as adults is unconstitutional. Under U.S. Supreme Court case law, Illinois’s transfer and mandatory sentencing statutes are unconstitutional because they do not allow for individualized sentencing of minors transferred to adult court and convicted of murder. Youth are fundamentally different from adults in constitutionally relevant ways. The Illinois automatic transfer and mandatory sentencing statutes are unconstitutional because they do not permit a sentencing court to consider the individual maturity and degree of culpability of each youth convicted of murder. The U.S. Supreme Court’s “kids are different” jurisprudence is not limited to a particular type of crime, sentence or constitutional provision. Illinois’ statutory scheme is unconstitutional because it subjects youth who were not principally responsible – such as those charged with felony murder or those charged under an accountability theory – to automatic transfer to adult court and mandatory sentencing without a court’s consideration of the constitutionally relevant attributes of adolescence. Illinois’s statutory scheme departs from national norms. Illinois is an outlier because its statutes require certain youth to be tried in adult court based on age and charge alone, without the opportunity for a court to make an individualized determination as to whether juvenile court jurisdiction would be more appropriate based on the youth’s unique degree of culpability and capacity for change and rehabilitation. Public policy and public opinion overwhelmingly opposes the automatic transfer to adult court and mandatory imposition of adult sentences without judicial review of the individual youth’s degree of culpability and amenability to rehabilitation.
Brief of Amicus Curiae The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers in Support of Contemnor-Appellant.
Argument: The Circuit Court's application of the Illinois rules deprives indigent clients of their fundamental right to conflict-free counsel solely on the basis of financial status in violation of the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the federal and state Constitutions. The right to conflict-free counsel is a fundamental constitutional right. Fundamental constitutional rights may not be denied bases on an inability to pay. The failure to apply similar conflict of interest standards to clients of privately retained attorneys and clients of the Cook County Public Defender's office deprives the Public Defender's clients of their fundamental right to conflict-free counsel. African-American and Latino individuals are likely to bear the brunt of the constitutional violation at issue here.