SCOTUS to Hear Argument in October about Miller Retroactivity

On October 13, 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral argument in Montgomery v. Louisiana, a case that presents the question whether Miller v. Alabama, 567 U.S. ___, 132 S. Ct. 2455 (2012), applies retroactively to convictions that became final before Miller was decided. In Miller the Court held that under the Eighth Amendment a sentencing scheme that mandates life without parole for defendants less than 18 years old at the time of their crimes is unconstitutional. Miller did not categorically ban a life without parole sentence for juvenile offenders; rather it mandated that the sentencer must consider an offender’s youth and attendant characteristics before imposing such a penalty. Miller applies to all cases that were pending when it was decided as well as to all future cases. Griffith v. Kentucky, 479 U.S. 314 (1987). The question of retroactivity is whether the Miller rule applies to cases that became final before the decision was issued. As I noted in a blog post here, the lower courts are divided on the issue. The Court’s decision in Montgomery might finally resolve it.

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Riley and Retroactivity

Last month the U.S. Supreme Court held that under the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, officers can’t search a cell phone as a search incident to arrest. Riley v. California, __ U.S. __, 134 S.Ct. 2473 (2014). For background on those cases, see the blog post here. Since then I’ve had a bunch of … Read more


Miller Retroactivity: Where Are We?

Almost two years after the United States Supreme Court decided Miller v. Alabama, the question of whether the case applies retroactively to convictions that became final before it was decided continues to be a thorny one for the nation’s courts. Miller held that under the Eighth Amendment a sentencing scheme that mandates life without parole … Read more


NC Court Takes a Restrictive View of “Significant Change in the Law” MARs

In a bulletin here I wrote about NC’s procedure for post-conviction motions for appropriate relief (MARs). Among other things, that bulletin explains the types of claims that can be raised in a MAR. One of those claims is that “[t]here has been a significant change in law, either substantive or procedural, applied in the proceedings … Read more


A Silver Lining for the Defense in Chaidez?

I previously posted here about the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent decision in Chaidez and its holding that Padilla does not apply retroactively. The Court’s ruling meant that lawful permanent resident Roselva Chaidez failed in her attempt to overturn her pre-Padilla federal convictions on the basis that her lawyer neglected to tell her that they would … Read more


U.S. Supreme Court Ruling: Padilla Is Not Retroactive

The U.S. Supreme Court recently decided Chaidez v. United States, 568 U.S. __ (Feb. 20, 2013), holding that Padilla v. Kentucky, 559 U. S. ___ (2010), isn’t retroactive. Padilla held that criminal defense attorneys must inform non-citizen clients of the risks of deportation arising from guilty pleas. As I noted in a post here, Padilla … Read more

Supreme Court Update

Today, I wanted to note two timely and interesting items concerning the United States Supreme Court. First, the Court just granted certiorari in Chaidez v. United States, a case that presents the issue of whether Padilla v. Kentucky applies retroactively. Padilla, of course, is the case that requires criminal defense attorneys, in some circumstances, to … Read more


Is Kenton Retroactive?

In a post here, Jeff wrote about the N.C. Court of Appeals decision in Kenton v. Kenton, holding that a consent domestic violence protective order (DVPO) lacking any finding that the defendant committed an act of domestic violence was void ab initio. As it turns out, a number of district court judges have been entering … Read more


No Relief from Fair Sentencing

In a post here Jamie discussed whether a defendant who was sentenced under the Fair Sentencing Act (FSA) can successfully bring a motion for appropriate relief asserting that he or she is entitled to “retroactive” application of the provisions of Structured Sentencing Law (SSL). Jamie posited—correctly as it turns out—that the answer to this question … Read more


N.C. Court of Appeals Rules that Padilla Is Not Retroactive

In a post here, a former colleague [editor’s note: the post has my picture on it but as the byline notes, it was written by Sejal Zota] wrote about Padilla v. Kentucky, 130 S. Ct. 1473 (Mar. 31, 2010), a U.S. Supreme Court decision dealing with ineffective assistance of counsel in connection with advice regarding … Read more