In 1963, Henry Montgomery murdered a Baton Rouge police officer ten days after turning seventeen. The State of Louisiana indicted Montgomery for capital murder, but in 1966, the Louisiana Supreme Court reversed the conviction, a new trial occurred, and Montgomery was sentenced to life imprisonment without an opportunity for parole.
In 2012, the U. S. Supreme Court held in Miller v. Alabama that the Eighth Amendment forbids states to enforce sentencing schemes requiring life in prison without the possibility of parole for juvenile homicide offenders. Miller held that a juvenile convicted for murder could not be imprisoned for his entire life based on a statute’s sentencing requirement.
Montgomery now petitions for Louisiana to overturn his sentence, stating that because he was a juvenile and because of the decision in Miller, he is entitled to a new sentencing hearing with the possibility of parole. The district court denied his motion and the Louisiana Supreme Court denied his writ application.
The U.S. Supreme Court will decide two issues: “(1) Whether Miller v. Alabama adopts a new substantive rule that applies retroactively on collateral review to people condemned as juveniles to die in prison; and (2) whether the Supreme Court has jurisdiction to decide whether the Supreme Court of Louisiana correctly refused to give retroactive effect in this case to this Court’s decision in Miller v. Alabama.” The Court held oral argument on October 13, 2015. Professor Leslie Shoebotham of Loyola University New Orleans’s College of Law provided a preview of the oral argument here, and an analysis of the oral argument here.