Louisiana Supreme Court Permits Retroactive Application of Miller v. Alabama


The Louisiana Supreme Court has decided to permit retroactive application of Miller v. Alabama to people sentenced as juveniles to life without the possibility of parole.

In the case of State v. Williams, a trial judge had declared the Miller decision to be retroactively applicable to Shon Williams, one of two hundred people in Louisiana sentenced to life without parole for crimes committed when they were children.

The State appealed the judge’s decision, arguing that the Miller decision should not be applied retroactively to people sentenced before Miller was decided. The State made this argument despite the fact that the U.S. Supreme Court itself retroactively applied Miller in Jackson v. Hobbs, a case that was on collateral review at the time. The Court’s decision to grant relief in Jackson requires that the ban on mandatory juvenile life-without-parole sentences be applied in all cases.

A Louisiana appellate court referred the issue to the Louisiana Supreme Court, which last week became the first state supreme court to rule on the retroactivity of Miller. The Court denied the State’s appeal, which had the effect of authorizing Mr. Williams’s resentencing to now proceed.

Courts in Illinois have also found Miller to be retroactive.