State of Louisiana v. Giovanni Brown, Supreme Court of Louisiana, Docket No. 2012-KP-0872

The Louisiana Supreme Court granted certiorari in this case to consider whether the United States Supreme Court's decision in Graham v. Florida, 130 S.Ct. 2011 (2010), applied in a case in which the juvenile offender committed multiple offenses resulting in cumulative sentences matching or exceeding his life expectancy without the opportunity of securing early release from confinement. Giovanni Brown, 29, was serving mandatory life in prison for a Jefferson Parish aggravated kidnapping conviction, and another 40 years for his convictions of four armed robberies, which were originally set to run consecutively. Brown committed the crimes in 1999, when he was 16 years old.


After Graham v. Florida, Judge Robert Murphy of the 24th Judicial District Court ruled last year that Brown is eligible for parole for the aggravated kidnapping conviction. Yet, Judge Murphy also took the Graham's mandate a step further and applied it to Brown's 40-year sentence for the armed robberies, making Brown eligible for parole at age 46. Without the extension of Graham's mandate, Brown would not be eligible for parole until he is 86 years old. Judge Murphy stated: "To impose 40 years of additional time without benefits after a parole review of a life sentence would effectively negate Graham's ultimate directive to provide an opportunity for rehabilitation for the juvenile." The Jefferson Parish District Attorney's Office appealed and argued its position to the Supreme Court of Louisiana in December 2012.


Having reviewed the record and the applicable law, the Louisiana Supreme Court found Graham's holding that the Eighth Amendment's prohibition of cruel and unusual punishment forbids the imposition of life in prison without parole for juveniles committing non-homicide crimes, applied only to sentences of life in prison without parole, and did not apply to a sentence of years without the possibility of parole. Therefore, the Louisiana Supreme Court reversed the decision of the trial court, which amended Brown's four 10-year sentences for four armed robberies.


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