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Juvenile Justice Initiative at Stetson to host reenactment of U.S. Supreme Court arguments on sentencing juveniles to life without parole


Stetson University College of Law’s Juvenile Justice Initiative will host a reenactment on March 27 of two pending U.S. Supreme Court cases, Miller v. Alabama and Jackson v. Hobbs.

“These cases are pivotal because the U.S. Supreme Court’s opinion will either endorse the concept that children are capable of being rehabilitated or they will reject this notion. In either instance, the opinion will have broad ramifications for the future of juvenile criminal law,” said Professor Judith Scully, faculty advisor for Stetson’s Juvenile Justice Initiative and Innocence Initiative.

The Court will begin hearing oral arguments in these cases on March 20 to determine whether it is constitutional to sentence juveniles convicted of homicide offenses to life without the possibility of parole. A recent opinion article in the New York Times states that “Nationwide, 79 young adolescents have been sentenced to die in prison — a sentence not imposed on children anywhere else in the world.”

“By working with the Juvenile Justice Initiative, we hope that law students at Stetson will learn the lesson that the law by itself does not create equality,” said Professor Scully. “Equality is achieved through consciousness raising and prolonged advocacy on behalf of society’s most vulnerable populations. The law without advocacy has very little impact.”

WHAT: Sixth Judicial Circuit State Attorney Bernie McCabe and Sixth Judicial Circuit Public Defender Bob Dillinger will present the “McCabe – Dillinger Debate: Life Behind Bars,” to reenact the Court’s oral arguments for students at Stetson Law on March 27.

WHO: McCabe will be arguing for the state, while Dillinger will be arguing for the defendants, in Miller v. Alabama and Jackson v. Hobbs. Miller and Jackson were convicted of homicide offenses for crimes they committed as juveniles, and both received mandatory life without parole sentences. Wm. Reece Smith Jr. Distinguished Professor of Law Judith Scully will introduce the program. Retired circuit court Judge Irene Sullivan will play the role of chief justice and professors Brooke Bowman, Stephen Everhart, Roberta Flowers, Timothy Kaye, Lance Long, Susan Rozelle and Judith Scully will serve as justices.

WHEN: March 27, 5-6:30 p.m.

WHERE: Great Hall, Stetson University College of Law, 1401 61st St. S., Gulfport.