In October, the Supreme Court heard oral argument in the case of Lee Boyd Malvo, one of the so-called “D.C. snipers,” and was poised to rule on the scope of its 2012 decision in Miller v. Alabama, holding that mandatory life-without-parole sentences for defendants who were under the age of 18 when they committed their crimes are unconstitutional. On February 26, the justices dismissed Malvo’s case after Virginia, where Malvo was serving his sentence, enacted a new law that made juveniles who were sentenced to life in prison eligible for parole after they had served 26 years. Today the justices announced that they will take up the question presented by Malvo’s case again, as they granted a petition filed by Brett Jones, who was 15 years old when he killed his grandfather during an argument about Jones’ girlfriend. Jones was convicted by a jury in Mississippi and sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. Today the justices agreed to take up his case, in which he had asked them to weigh in on whether the Eighth Amendment’s ban on cruel and unusual punishment requires a sentencing authority to find that a juvenile is permanently incorrigible before imposing a sentence of life without parole.
Jones’ case was the only grant on today’s order list. The justices’ next conference is scheduled for Friday, March 20.
This post is also published on SCOTUSblog.