Justia Juvenile Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Supreme Court of Mississippi
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David Blue was convicted of capital murder when the only sentences for that crime were death or life imprisonment. Blue was sentenced to death, and his death sentence was subsequently found unconstitutional because he was both intellectually disabled and a minor when he committed the crime. The trial court sentenced Blue to life without parole, and he requested a "Miller" hearing to determine whether that new sentence was appropriate. While his petition for post-conviction relief was pending before the trial court, the Mississippi Supreme Court found Section 99-19-107 inapplicable to individuals for whom the death penalty was found unconstitutional. The trial court ordered a mental evaluation to help with a Miller determination regarding whether to sentence Blue to life or life without the possibility of parole. Blue filed an interlocutory appeal with the Supreme Court, arguing that a mental evaluation and hearing were unnecessary, because only one constitutional sentence was available: life imprisonment. The State argued that life without parole was a sentencing option because the statutory amendments that added life without parole as a sentencing option for capital murder applied to Blue. Because applying life without parole as a sentencing option to Blue would violate the prohibition against ex post facto laws, the Supreme Court vacated the trial court’s order and remanded the case with instructions to sentence Blue to life imprisonment. View "Blue v. Mississippi" on Justia Law

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In 1994, sixteen-and-a-half-year-old Stephen McGilberry brutally murdered four family members, including his three-year-old nephew. McGilberry premeditated and planned his crime, enlisting a younger neighbor’s help. A jury found McGilberry guilty of four counts of capital murder and sentenced him to death. But in 2005, the United States Supreme Court invalidated the death penalty for offenders who committed their capital crimes before reaching the age of eighteen. McGilberry's death sentence was vacated and he was resentenced to life without parole. In 2012, the Supreme Court held that the mandatory imposition of life without parole for crimes committed before the offender turned eighteen violated the constitutional prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment. Based on Miller v. Alabama, 567 U.S. 460 (2012), the Mississippi Supreme Court granted McGilberry permission to seek post-conviction relief from his sentence. The Mississippi Supreme Court determined that the record supported the trial court's determination that McGilberry should have been sentenced to life without parole based on his "irreparably corrupt nature," the Court found no abuse of discretion in the sentencing decision. View "McGilberry v. Mississippi" on Justia Law

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E.C. alleged she was sexually assaulted on the premises of Pass Christian High School. The Youth Court adjudicated the alleged perpetrators not delinquent. Later, Roy and Kimberly Cuevas, individually, and on behalf of their minor daughter, E.C., filed a negligence action seeking damages from the Pass Christian School District associated with the alleged assault. Pass Christian unsuccessfully sought the records from the youth-court action to use in its defense in the civil case. It argued on appeal that the youth-court judge abused her discretion in denying its requests for disclosure of the youth-court records and trial transcripts relating to the three minor perpetrators. It also argued it would be denied due process and fairness if the sworn testimony of E.C. were not released due to the confidentiality rules protecting the subjects of youth-court actions. The Mississippi Supreme Court reversed and remanded for the circuit court to conduct an in camera review of the youth-court record to determine whether any of it should have been disclosed. View "In the Interest of M.D.G. v. Harrison County Youth Court of Mississippi" on Justia Law

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L.B.C. appeals the Forrest County Youth Court’s requirement that he register as a sex offender. In 2015, L.B.C. sexually battered two six-year-old girls. L.B.C. admitted to sexually penetrating the two victims with his fingers. At the time, L.B.C. was fourteen years old. Each of the four issues appealed by L.B.C. arose from the registration requirement: (1) his delinquency adjudication of sexual battery did not involve the use of force and was not an offense that required him to register as a sex offender; (2) requiring registration without an individual determination that he was a threat to the public violated his constitutional rights; (3) he should not be required to register as a sex offender since he had a mental age of nine and had been fourteen years old for only three months at the time of the incidents; and (4) requiring him to register as a sex offender violated the confidentiality requirements of youth-court proceedings. Finding no error, the Mississippi Supreme Court affirmed the disposition of the youth court. View "In the Interest of L.B.C. v. Forrest County Youth Court" on Justia Law