Amicus Brief - Roper v Simmons
Amicus Brief on the Juvenile Death Penalty
On July 19, 2004, in the good company of many other outstanding U.S. and international organizations and individuals, CJJ filed an amicus curiae brief—or friend-of-the-court brief—in the U.S. Supreme Court, voicing its opposition to the juvenile death penalty. Since 1989, CJJ has been on record opposing the execution of offenders that committed their crimes before their 18th birthday.
In October 2004, the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments in a Missouri case, Roper v. Simmons. In March 2005, in a seminal 5-to-4 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down capital punishment for those who committed crimes while under the age of majority.
Amicus briefs have gone to the U.S. Supreme Court from a high-powered group of organizations, including:
CJJ’s legal brief, prepared by the firm of Dickstein Shapiro Morin & Oshinsky LLP of Washington, DC, asserts that like the mentally retarded, juveniles have developmental limitations and deficiencies that make them less able to assist counsel, more likely to make false confessions, and overall more likely to be wrongfully convicted or wrongfully sentenced to death. This erosion of basic rights under the Fifth and Sixth Amendments is unacceptable and warrants the categorical exclusion of juveniles from the death penalty.
- Medical science and brain development organizations such as the American Medical Association and seven other medical groups, as well as the American Psychological Association and other prominent mental health organizations.
- International representatives such as Nobel Peace Prize recipients led by President Jimmy Carter, Mikhail Gorbachev and Lech Walesa, and the 48-nation European Union.
- Religious organizations from nearly every major world religion.
- Child advocacy organizations such as the Children’s Defense Fund, the Child Welfare League and Voices for America’s Children.
- Legal organizations, which along with CJJ, filed separate briefs, including civil rights, legal aid and defender organizations, and state Attorneys General.
- Death penalty abolition groups, victims’ organizations, and many state groups—especially in Missouri—have also filed briefs.
Click here to open a PDF file of CJJ’s amicus brief.