August 20, 2016

Latest un-hold order shows Supreme Court’s continued interest in evaluating lengthy juvenile sentences

The Supreme Court occasionally will un-hold a case, meaning it will ask for briefing in a matter that was originally taken as a grant-and-hold case with the expectation that the court would not issue an opinion.  (See, e.g., here and here.)  The court issued an un-hold order in People v. Contreras this week.

Contreras was on hold pending the decision in People v. Franklin, which was itself an un-hold case.  The Franklin opinion held that the constitution proscribes mandatory sentences for homicides committed by juveniles that are the “functional equivalent” of life without parole, but also concluded that delaying parole eligibility for 25 years is not functionally equivalent to life without parole.

The Contreras un-hold order directs the parties to brief whether a total sentence of 50 years to life or 58 years to life is the functional equivalent of life without the possibility of parole for juvenile offenders.

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