Justia Juvenile Law Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in US Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit
United States v. C.S.
C.S., age 17, made threatening statements to a confidential informant in an online chatroom dedicated to discussing terroristic attacks. Law enforcement searched C.S.’s home and cell phone. In his home, agents discovered assault rifles, ammunition, a crossbow, a headscarf, smoke bombs, grenade casings, military-style ammunition vest and gear, and a long-bladed knife. His cell phone revealed Internet searches, literature about making explosives, Islamic Jihadi propaganda videos depicting beheadings, and photos of C.S. posing with his assault rifle while wearing military gear and headscarf. C.S. was adjudicated delinquent, 18 U.S.C. 875(c). During several conversations, C.S. made threats against a local church. Although juvenile proceedings are usually sealed, the court permitted the government to notify the church that it was the subject of a threat and that the party who communicated the threat had been prosecuted. The order did not identify C.S.The Third Circuit affirmed. C.S.’s statements qualified as threats under section 875(c). A rational factfinder could find that a reasonable person could consider C.S.’s statements to be “a serious expression of an intent to inflict bodily injury.” The court did not violate the confidentiality provisions of the Juvenile and Delinquency Prevention Act of 1974, 18 U.S.C. 5031-5038), in allowing the government to notify the church of the threats and acted well within its discretion in issuing the notification order. View "United States v. C.S." on Justia Law
United States v. Grant
Grant was 16 years old when he committed crimes that led to his incarceration. He was convicted in 1992 under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act and for drug trafficking. The court determined that Grant would never be fit to reenter society and sentenced him to life in prison without the possibility of parole (LWOP) for the RICO convictions with a concurrent 40-year term for the drug convictions and a mandatory consecutive five-year term for a gun conviction. In 2012, the Supreme Court decided, in Miller v. Alabama, that only incorrigible juvenile homicide offenders who have no capacity to reform may be sentenced to LWOP and that all non-incorrigible juvenile offenders are entitled to a “meaningful opportunity to obtain release based on demonstrated maturity and rehabilitation.” The court resentenced Grant to a term of 65 years without parole. Grant argued that the sentence constitutes de facto LWOP. The Third Circuit vacated Grant’s sentence. A sentence that either meets or exceeds a non-incorrigible juvenile offender’s life expectancy violates the Eighth Amendment; courts must hold evidentiary hearings to determine the non-incorrigible juvenile offender’s life expectancy and must consider as sentencing factors his life expectancy and the national age of retirement, with the section 3553(a) factors, to properly structure a meaningful opportunity for release. View "United States v. Grant" on Justia Law