Milbank LLP’s pro bono efforts on juvenile sentencing matters, which include the firm’s representation of Edward Simms, were featured in a Law360 Pro Bono Spotlight article titled “Milbank Advances Novel Strategy For La. Juvenile Convicts.” The article discusses the firm’s ongoing pro bono collaboration with the Louisiana Center for Children's Rights (“the Center”), a nonprofit organization that provides legal representation to children and adults who have been sentenced as juveniles.
For years, the firm and the Center have worked towards new sentences for defendants sentenced as juveniles to life in prison without parole, a sentence that was eventually ruled unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2012. In the wake of the Supreme Court’s Ramos v. Louisiana decision, in which the Court ruled that nonunanimous jury verdicts are also unconstitutional, Milbank developed a legal approach aimed at voiding the convictions of juvenile offenders by nonunanimous juries. Arguing that the juvenile life without parole convictions of its clients are not final and that they are entitled to new trials, the firm drafted template motions that are currently being utilized by the Center and others advocating against juvenile life without parole sentences. Milbank’s legal strategy is part of a broader initiative to address Louisiana’s treatment of children who have been sentenced to life in prison.
"In Louisiana, which is a harsh, law-and-order type of jurisdiction, the DAs have largely taken the position that they're going to try to maintain the life without parole sentence in the face of these Supreme Court cases, which allow for only very narrow exceptions for the worst offenders," says Milbank partner Alan Stone, who has been working on these matters.
Milbank Pro Bono Counsel Tony Cassino, who notes that Milbank is also handling juvenile sentencing matters in other states, adds, "Our clients have very few resources, and there's no right to counsel here. How are they ever going to get out unless a law firm like Milbank decides to help them and spend all that money and time? It’s an uphill battle, but we’re in for the fight."
Read “Milbank Advances Novel Strategy For La. Juvenile Convicts” here. Subscription to Law360 required.