Michigan Supreme Court Rules Life Without Parole Disproportionate Punishment for 18-Year-Olds
Boston – September 2, 2022 – The Michigan Supreme Court recently ruled in four cases, including People v. Parks and People v. Poole, that sentences of mandatory life without parole (LWOP) for 18 year-old persons violate the Michigan Constitution’s ban on “cruel or unusual” punishment. Cooley submitted amicus briefs in both cases on behalf of neuroscientists, psychologists and criminal justice scholars in support of the incarcerated individuals. Partners Adam Gershenson and Kathleen Hartnett led the Cooley effort, which marshaled scientific evidence to demonstrate why such sentences were invalid, unnecessary and ill-suited for adolescents.
Ten years ago, the US Supreme Court in Miller v. Alabama struck down mandatory LWOP sentences for children under 18, holding that such sentences are unconstitutionally excessive for children whose crimes reflect “transient immaturity.” In People v. Parks and People v. Poole, the Michigan Supreme Court addressed the further implications of the Supreme Court’s ruling and rationale for Michigan law. Specifically, the court accepted Cooley’s argument that LWOP sentences fail to consider the mitigating characteristics of late-adolescent brain development, and thus are disproportionate under the Michigan Constitution.
About Cooley LLP
Cooley partners with local and national legal services organizations to represent hundreds of pro bono clients annually. Through its pro bono work, Cooley empowers individuals to seek justice and opportunity, and provides nonprofit organizations the tools they need to effect change and support underserved communities.
Cooley has 1,500 lawyers across 17 offices in the United States, Asia and Europe, and a total workforce of 3,300.
This content is provided for general informational purposes only, and your access or use of the content does not create an attorney-client relationship between you or your organization and Cooley LLP, Cooley (UK) LLP, or any other affiliated practice or entity (collectively referred to as “Cooley”). By accessing this content, you agree that the information provided does not constitute legal or other professional advice. This content is not a substitute for obtaining legal advice from a qualified attorney licensed in your jurisdiction and you should not act or refrain from acting based on this content. This content may be changed without notice. It is not guaranteed to be complete, correct or up to date, and it may not reflect the most current legal developments. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome. Do not send any confidential information to Cooley, as we do not have any duty to keep any information you provide to us confidential. This content may be considered Attorney Advertising and is subject to our legal notices.