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Name: People v. Jordan
Case #: D064010
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 4 DCA
Division: 1
Opinion Date: 03/16/2015
Subsequent History: Review granted 7/8/2015: S225848

Juvenile defendants’ sentences were not cruel and unusual punishment. Three 17-year-old defendants were convicted of committing a murder during a robbery and other offenses. Based on their young age at the time of the offenses, all three defendants claimed their life terms (50 years to life for Abernathy, and 25 years to life for Jones and Jordan) violated the Eighth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. In sentencing Abernathy, the trial court applied the approach outlined in Miller v. Alabama (2012) 132 S.Ct. 2455, concluding that the sentence did not constitute cruel and unusual punishment. The Court of Appeal noted the California Supreme Court has before it the issue of whether Miller applies to sentences that are not literally sentences of life without parole (LWOP) but, because of the length of the term, are de facto LWOP sentences. (In re Alatriste (2013) 220 Cal.App.4th 1232, review granted 2/19/2014 (S214652/B248072); and In re Bonilla (2013) 220 Cal.App.4th 1232, review granted 2/19/2014 (S214960/B248199).) Assuming Miller does apply, the Court of Appeal found the trial court’s extensive comments at Abernathy’s sentencing complied with the Miller requirements. As to Jones and Jordan, they did not receive de facto LWOP terms so Miller did not apply to them. Nor are their sentences disproportionate as felony murder during a robbery is a serious and dangerous crime and defendants willingly participated in the robbery.