Press Release

Cooley, Representing Neuroscience Scholars, Seeks Parole Reform for Youthful Offenders

September 1, 2023

San Diego – September 1, 2023 – Cooley filed an amicus brief representing more than 25 of the nation’s leading neuroscience, psychology, and juvenile justice scholars and nonprofits in the pending California Supreme Court merits case, People v. Hardin. Lawyers Adam Gershenson, Kathleen Hartnett and Matt Nguyen led the Cooley effort. 

At issue in Hardin is California’s youthful offender parole program, which allows certain youthful offenders eventual access to parole suitability hearings but excludes all late adolescents (aged 18 – 25 at the time of offense) sentenced to life without parole (LWOP). Marshaling compelling neuroscientific and psychological evidence on the still-developing brains and behaviors of late adolescents, Cooley’s amicus brief explains how California’s exclusion of all late adolescents sentenced to LWOP from this program violates the equal protection guarantees of the US and California Constitutions. 

Read the amicus brief here

Representing many of the same nationally renowned scholars, Cooley previously filed amicus briefs addressing similar constitutional challenges in the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, which is pending decision, and in the Michigan Supreme Court, which last year repeatedly cited Cooley’s amicus brief in its landmark decision broadening constitutional safeguards for late adolescents.

In recent years, Cooley has prevailed in numerous California Supreme Court matters on behalf of Fortune 500 companies, startups, coalitions, nonprofits and individuals. Cooley’s bench of appellate practitioners resolves high-stakes appeals across all federal and state courts and includes former clerks of the US Supreme Court, California Supreme Court and federal Courts of Appeals.

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