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Supreme Court weighs life sentences for juveniles

November 10, 2009

….On the steps of the Supreme Court Monday, Stevenson said his client
was convicted primarily with the testimony of two older accomplices who
got very light sentences. Stevenson suggested that Sullivan is the
classic case of a kid too young, too poor and too intellectually
impaired to be able to fight for his claim of innocence. Indeed,
Sullivan’s court-appointed lawyer filed no appeals and was later
disbarred. By the time Stevenson’s Equal Justice Initiative began
examining Sullivan’s case, nearly two decades after his conviction, the
state had destroyed all the physical evidence, and no DNA tests could
be conducted that might have proved definitively whether Sullivan had
committed the crime.

Monday’s second case involved
Terrance Graham, who at 16 participated in a robbery during which an
accomplice hit the store manager with a pipe. Graham’s probation for
that crime was revoked when he was arrested fleeing the scene of
another armed robbery — and this time he was sent away for life.

His lawyer Bryan Gowdy argues that a life term for such an offense doesn’t fit the crime….

….But Florida Solicitor General Scott Makar defended the penalty in both cases.

have [had] a serious crime problem in Florida over the years, so in our
view that justifies the stiff penalties that have been assessed,” he

Read the whole report.

Transcripts of the oral arguments before court are available in both Graham v Florida and Sullivan v Florida.


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