Oral argument: March 20, 2012
Appealed from: Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals (Aug. 27, 2010)
Petitioner, 14-year-old Evan Miller, was convicted of aggravated murder and sentenced by an Alabama state court to life in prison without parole. Miller appealed his conviction arguing that it violated the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments. Miller points to the Supreme Court cases Roper v. Simmons and Graham v. Florida, which held that a minor cannot be sentenced to death and that a minor cannot be imprisoned for life for a non-homicidal crime, respectively, as evidence that his conviction contravenes nationally held standards of decency. In response, the state of Alabama argues that Roper and Graham are factually distinct from this case and that national standards of decency support sentencing a minor to life imprisonment without parole for certain extreme crimes. The Supreme Court in this case will address moral and doctrinal questions about where the American legal system draws the line in punishing adolescents.