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Casiano v. Commissioner of Corr.

Supreme Court of Connecticut

May 26, 2015

JASON CASIANO
v.
COMMISSIONER OF CORRECTION

Argued September 16, 2014.

Page 1032

Amended petition for a writ of habeas corpus, brought to the Superior Court in the judicial district of Toll and, where the court, Cobb, J., granted the respondent's motion for summary judgment and rendered judgment thereon; thereafter, the court denied the petitioner's motion for reconsideration, and the petitioner appealed.

SYLLABUS

The petitioner, who was sixteen at the time of the underlying crimes, was sentenced to a total effective prison term of fifty years without the possibility of parole on the count of felony murder. Subsequent to the petitioner's conviction and sentencing, the United States Supreme Court decided in Miller v. Alabama (132 S.Ct. 2455, 183 L.Ed.2d 407) that under the eighth amendment to the federal constitution, juvenile offenders cannot be sentenced in certain circumstances as if they are adults. Thereafter, the petitioner sought a writ of habeas corpus, claiming that Miller applied retroactively under Connecticut law to cases arising on collateral review, and that Miller applied to the imposition of his fifty year sentence without the possibility of parole as a juvenile offender. The respondent Commissioner of Correction moved for summary judgment, arguing that the Connecticut sentencing practices that permit the trial court to impose a lesser sentence than life imprisonment without parole and to consider any mitigating evidence offered by the juvenile offender are constitutional under Miller. The habeas court rendered summary judgment in favor of the respondent, and thereafter denied the petitioner's motion for reconsideration, and the petitioner appealed. Subsequently, this court decided in State v. Riley (315 Conn. 637, 110 A.3d 1205) that, in order to comport with the eighth amendment to the federal constitution, a trial court must give mitigating weight to the youth related factors set forth in Miller, when considering whether to impose a life sentence without the possibility of parole on a juvenile homicide offender. On appeal, the petitioner alleged, inter alia, that the habeas court improperly granted the respondent's motion for summary judgment because pursuant to Miller, the imposition of his fifty year sentence without the possibility of parole as a juvenile offender was the functional equivalent of a life sentence. Held :

1. This court concluded that the rule announced in Miller was a watershed rule of criminal procedure because it implicated the fundamental fairness and accuracy of a juvenile sentencing proceeding and, therefore, that the rule must be applied retroactively under Connecticut law to the petitioner's case: Miller created a new rule because at the time when the petitioner's conviction became final, existing precedent did not compel the conclusion that it was unconstitutional to impose a life sentence without the possibility of parole on a juvenile offender; furthermore, the rule in Miller requiring that a sentencing authority conduct an individualized sentencing procedure and consider the mitigating circumstances of youth before sentencing a juvenile offender to a life sentence without the possibility of parole was more properly characterized as a procedural rule rather than a substantive rule, as the rule did not eliminate a state's power to impose a punishment of life imprisonment without the possibility of parole, but required only that a sentencing authority follow a certain process before imposing that sentence.

2. The habeas court improperly granted the respondent's motion for summary judgment on the ground that Miller did not apply to the petitioner's sentence, this court having concluded that the procedures set forth in Miller must be followed when considering concluded that the procedures set forth in Miller must be followed when considering whether to sentence a juvenile offender to fifty years imprisonment without the possibility of parole; furthermore, although Connecticut law presumes that a sixty year term of imprisonment is the functional equivalent of a life sentence, this court determined that a term of years less than the sixty year threshold may be deemed a life sentence for a juvenile offender for the purposes of Miller.

Heather Golias, assigned counsel, for the appellant (petitioner).

Robin S. Schwartz, assistant state's attorney, with whom, on the brief, were Michael Dearington, state's attorney, and Adrienne Maciulewski, deputy assistant state's attorney, for the appellee (respondent).

Rogers, C. J., and Palmer, Zarella, Eveleigh, McDonald, Espinosa and Robinson, Js. McDONALD, J. In this opinion ROGERS, C. J., and PALMER and EVELEIGH, Js., concurred. ZARELLA, J., with whom ROBINSON, J., joins, dissenting. ESPINOSA, J., dissenting.

OPINION

Page 1033

[317 Conn. 54] McDONALD, J.

We recently held in State v. Riley, 315 Conn. 637, 659, 110 A.3d 1205 (2015), that, to comport with the eighth amendment to the federal constitution, the trial court must give mitigating weight to the youth related factors set forth in Miller v. Alabama, __ U.S. __, 132 S.Ct. 2455, 2464-65, 2468, 183 L.Ed.2d 407 (2012), when considering whether to impose a life sentence without the possibility of parole on a juvenile homicide offender. In Riley, the defendant challenged on direct appeal a total effective sentence of 100 years with no possibility of parole before his natural life expired, a sentence that the state conceded was the functional equivalent to life without parole. State v. Riley, supra, 642. The different procedural posture and sentence in the present case raises two significant issues regarding the reach of Miller : whether Miller applies retroactively under Connecticut law to cases arising on collateral review, and, if so, whether Miller applies to the imposition of a fifty year sentence on a juvenile offender. We answer both questions in the affirmative[1] and, therefore, reverse the habeas court's decision rendering summary judgment in favor of the respondent, the Commissioner of Correction, on the [317 Conn. 55] petition for a writ of habeas corpus filed by the petitioner, Jason Casiano.

This case arises in the context of the following undisputed facts. In 1995, the petitioner, then sixteen years old, and two accomplices attempted to rob a Subway sandwich shop. When the store employee failed to promptly comply with a demand for money, the petitioner shot him four times, resulting in his death. The petitioner and his accomplices fled the scene without completing the robbery. The petitioner was arrested and charged with felony murder in violation of General Statutes § 53a-54c, attempt to commit robbery in the first degree in violation of General Statutes § § 53a-49 and 53a-134 (a) (2), and conspiracy to commit robbery in the first degree in violation of General Statutes § § 53a-48 and 53a-134 (a) (2). The state also sought an enhanced penalty for the use of a firearm during the commission of these offenses in violation of General Statutes § 53-202k. For these crimes, the petitioner faced a potential total effective sentence of between twenty-five and 105 years imprisonment.

The petitioner entered a plea of nolo contendere to the three substantive charges pursuant to a court indicated plea agreement, conditioned on his right to appeal the trial court's denial of his motion to suppress incriminating statements he made to the police. In accordance with the plea agreement, the trial court sentenced the petitioner to a total effective prison term of fifty years: fifty years on the felony murder count, and separate twenty year sentences on the counts of attempt to commit robbery in the first degree and conspiracy to commit robbery in the first degree, to run concurrent to

Page 1034

the felony murder sentence. The petitioner is not eligible for parole on the felony murder conviction. See General Statutes § 54-125a (b) (1) (C). The Appellate Court upheld the petitioner's conviction on appeal; State v. Casiano, 55 Conn.App. 582, 591, 740 A.2d 435 (1999); [317 Conn. 56] and this court denied certification to appeal that decision. State v. Casiano, 252 Conn. 942, 747 A.2d 518 (2000).[2]

After the petitioner's conviction and sentence became final, the United States Supreme Court decided a trilogy of cases that altered the landscape of juvenile sentencing practices. The court held that, under the eighth amendment to the federal constitution, " children are constitutionally different from adults for purposes of sentencing" ; Miller v. Alabama, supra, 132 S.Ct. 2464; and, therefore, that they cannot be sentenced in certain circumstances as if they are adults. See Roper v. Simmons, 543 U.S. 551, 578, 125 S.Ct. 1183, 161 L.Ed.2d 1 (2005) (eighth and fourteenth amendments prohibit imposition of death penalty on offenders who were under age of eighteen when their crimes were committed); Graham v. Florida, 560 U.S. 48, 82, 130 S.Ct. 2011, 176 L.Ed.2d 825 (2010) (eighth amendment prohibits sentence of life without possibility of parole for juvenile nonhomicide offender); Miller v. Alabama, supra, 2463-64 (eighth amendment prohibits sentencing scheme that mandates life in prison without possibility of parole for juvenile homicide offender, thereby precluding sentencing authority from considering offender's age and hallmarks of adolescence).

In light of these legal developments, the petitioner filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus, arguing that General Statutes § § 53a-35a (2) and 54-125a (b), the authority under which his fifty year prison term with no possibility of parole was imposed, violate the eighth amendment as applied to him. He requested that his sentence be vacated and his case remanded to the trial [317 Conn. 57] court for further proceedings. The respondent filed a motion for summary judgment, arguing, inter alia, that the petitioner's claims were controlled by the Appellate Court's decision in State v. Riley, 140 Conn.App. 1, 14-19, 58 A.3d 304 (2013), which held that Connecticut sentencing practices that permit the trial court to impose a lesser sentence than life imprisonment without parole and to consider any mitigating evidence offered are constitutional under Miller.[3] The habeas court agreed and granted the respondent's motion.

Following this court's decision granting certification to appeal in State v. Riley, 308 Conn. 910, 61 A.3d 531 (2013), the petitioner appealed from the habeas court's judgment to the Appellate Court, and we transferred the appeal to this court. In his appeal, the petitioner argues that Miller requires a trial court to consider the characteristics of youth as mitigating evidence in determining whether a sentence of life without parole is appropriate.[4]

Page 1035

He argues that his sentence of fifty years imprisonment without the opportunity for parole is the functional equivalent of a life sentence and therefore [317 Conn. 58] must comport with the requirements set forth in Miller. The respondent counters that Miller does not apply retroactively to cases on collateral review.[5] The respondent further contends that, even if it does apply, the petitioner cannot avail himself of the individual sentencing procedure under Miller because his fifty year sentence is not a life sentence, nor was it imposed pursuant to a mandatory sentencing scheme. We conclude that Miller applies retroactively under Connecticut law to the petitioner's case.

I

In Riley, we provided an overview of the Supreme Court's reasoning in Roper, Graham, and Miller. State v. Riley, supra, 315 Conn. 645-53. Therefore, we limit our discussion of that court's juvenile sentencing cases to the aspects of those cases that are particularly relevant to the questions in the present case. Although Miller is our principal focus, we also address Graham insofar as that decision sheds light on the substantive question before us.

The eighth amendment to the United States constitution provides: " Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted." The United States Supreme [317 Conn. 59] Court has recognized that the eighth amendment contains a proportionality principle, that is, that " punishment for crime should be graduated and proportioned to both the offender and the offense." (Internal quotation marks omitted.) Miller v. Alabama, supra, 132 S.Ct. 2463.

In Graham, the court adopted a categorical rule, concluding that the eighth amendment bars a sentence of life without parole for juvenile nonhomicide offenders. Graham v. Florida, supra, 560 U.S. 82. Similarities between the death penalty--which Roper had barred for juvenile offenders--and life without parole--" 'the second most severe penalty permitted by law'" ; id., 69;

Page 1036

played a significant role in the court's basis for its holding in Graham. See Miller v. Alabama, supra, 132 S.Ct. 2463 (court in Graham " likened life without parole for juveniles to the death penalty" ). The court in Graham explained that life without parole " is irrevocable. It deprives the convict of the most basic liberties without giving hope of restoration, except perhaps by executive clemency--the remote possibility of which does not mitigate the harshness of the sentence. . . . [T]his sentence means denial of hope; it means that good behavior and character improvement are immaterial; it means that whatever the future might hold in store for the mind and spirit of [the convict], he will remain in prison for the rest of his days." (Citation omitted; internal quotation marks omitted.) Graham v. Florida, supra, 69-70.

In Miller, the court held that, before a sentence of life without the possibility of parole may be imposed on a juvenile homicide offender, a sentencing authority must engage in an individualized sentencing process that accounts for the mitigating circumstances of youth and its attendant characteristics. Miller v. Alabama, supra, 132 S.Ct. 2469. Relying on its prior decisions in Roper and Graham, which both cited science and social [317 Conn. 60] science as support for their conclusions, the court noted that studies show that " [o]nly a relatively small proportion of adolescents who engage in illegal activity develop entrenched patterns of problem behavior. [ Roper v. Simmons, supra, 543 U.S. 570] . . . . [D]evelopments in psychology and brain science continue to show fundamental differences between juvenile and adult minds--for example, in parts of the brain involved in behavior control. [ Graham v. Florida, supra, 560 U.S. 68]. . . . [T]hose findings--of transient rashness, proclivity for risk, and inability to assess consequences--both [lessen] a child's moral culpability and [enhance] the prospect that, as the years go by and neurological development occurs, his deficiencies will be reformed." (Footnote omitted; internal quotation marks omitted.) Miller v. Alabama, supra, 2464-65.

Accordingly, the court in Miller reasoned that, before " irrevocably sentencing [a juvenile offender] to a lifetime in prison," a sentencing authority must " take into account how children are different, and how those differences counsel against irrevocably sentencing [a juvenile offender] to a lifetime in prison." Id., 2469. The court identified those salient factors as including, in addition to the offender's age at the time of the crime: " immaturity, impetuosity, and failure to appreciate risks and consequences" ; the offender's " family and home environment" and the offender's inability to extricate himself from that environment; " the circumstances of the homicide offense, including the extent of [the offender's] participation in the conduct and the way familial and peer pressures may have affected him" ; the offender's " inability to deal with police officers or prosecutors (including on a plea agreement) or his incapacity to assist his own attorneys" ; and " the possibility of rehabilitation . . . ." Id., 2468; see also State v. Riley, supra, 315 Conn. 658. A mandatory sentencing scheme, however, renders these factors irrelevant: " By removing [317 Conn. 61] youth from the balance--by subjecting a juvenile to the same life-without-parole sentence applicable to an adult--these [sentencing] laws prohibit a sentencing authority from assessing whether the law's harshest term of imprisonment proportionately punishes a juvenile offender." Miller v. Alabama, supra, 2466.

In Riley, we recognized that, although " Miller is replete with references to 'mandatory'

Page 1037

life without parole and like terms" ; State v. Riley, supra, 315 Conn. 653; its reasoning extends beyond mandatory sentencing schemes. Id., 654. We held that " if a sentencing scheme permits the imposition of [a life sentence without any possibility of parole] on a juvenile homicide offender, the trial court must consider the offender's 'chronological age and its hallmark features' as mitigating against such a severe sentence." (Emphasis in original.) Id., 658. The individualized sentencing requirement in Miller, in other words, " establish[ed] . . . a presumption against imposing a life sentence without parole on a juvenile offender that must be overcome by evidence of unusual circumstances." Id., 655. With this background in mind, we consider whether Miller also must be applied to cases arising on collateral review, and whether a fifty year sentence falls within Miller 's individualized sentencing mandate.

II

In Miller, the court was not faced with, and therefore did not consider, the question of whether its holding must apply retroactively to cases on collateral review.[6] [317 Conn. 62] We conclude that the rule announced in Miller is a watershed rule of criminal procedure that must be applied retroactively.

Our starting point for determining whether Miller applies retroactively is the framework set forth in Teague v. Lane, 489 U.S. 288, 109 S.Ct. 1060, 103 L.Ed.2d 334 (1989). See Thiersaint v. Commissioner of Correction, 316 Conn. 89, 112, 111 A.3d 829 (2015) (adopting Teague framework). Under Teague, the court " must [first] ascertain the legal landscape" as it existed at the time the petitioner's conviction became final and " ask whether the [United States] [c]onstitution, as interpreted by the precedent then existing, compels the rule . . . . That is, the court must decide whether the rule is actually new." (Citation omitted; internal quotation marks omitted.) Beard v. Banks, 542 U.S. 406, 411, 124 S.Ct. 2504, 159 L.Ed.2d 494 (2004). A constitutional rule is " new" for purposes of Teague " if the result was not dictated by precedent existing at the time the defendant's conviction became final." (Internal quotation marks omitted.) Thiersaint v. Commissioner of Correction, supra, 103.

With two exceptions, a new rule will not apply retroactively to cases on collateral review. Teague v. Lane, supra, 489 U.S. 311-13. First, if the new rule is " substantive," that is, if the rule " places certain kinds of primary, private conduct beyond the power of the criminal law-making authority to proscribe" ; (internal quotation marks omitted)

Page 1038

Thiersaint v. Commissioner of Correction, 316 Conn. 108 n.8; it must apply retroactively. " Such rules apply retroactively because they necessarily carry a significant risk that a defendant [317 Conn. 63] stands convicted of an act that the law does not make criminal or faces a punishment that the law cannot impose upon him." (Internal quotation marks omitted.) Schriro v. Summerlin, 542 U.S. 348, 352, 124 S.Ct. 2519, 159 L.Ed.2d 442 (2004).

Second, if the new rule is procedural, it applies retroactively if it is " a watershed [rule] of criminal procedure . . . implicit in the concept of ordered liberty" ; (citation omitted; internal quotation marks omitted) Beard v. Banks, 542 U.S. 417; meaning that it " implicat[es] the fundamental fairness and accuracy of [a] criminal proceeding." (Internal quotation marks omitted.) Id.; see also Sawyer v. Smith, 497 U.S. 227, 242, 110 S.Ct. 2822, 111 L.Ed.2d 193 (1990) (rule is watershed when it improves accuracy and " alter[s] our understanding of the bedrock procedural elements essential to the fairness of a proceeding" [emphasis omitted; internal quotation marks omitted]), quoting Teague v. Lane, 489 U.S. 311. Watershed rules of criminal procedure include those that " raise the possibility that someone convicted with use of the invalidated procedure might have been acquitted otherwise." Schriro v. Summerlin, 542 U.S. 352. The United States Supreme Court has narrowly construed this second exception and, in the twenty-five years since Teague was decided, has yet to conclude that a new rule qualifies as watershed. See id. (class of watershed rules of criminal procedure " is extremely narrow, and it is unlikely that any . . . ha[s] yet to emerge" [internal quotation marks omitted]); State v. Mares, 2014 WY 126, 335 P.3d 487, 502 (Wyo. 2014) (" [t]he [United States] Supreme Court has found no watershed rules . . . since it adopted Teague " [internal quotation marks omitted]).

We note that, although this court concluded that we will apply the Teague framework, we did so " with the caveat that, while federal decisions applying Teague may be instructive, this court will not be bound by those [317 Conn. 64] decisions in any particular case, but will conduct an independent analysis and application of Teague." Thiersaint v. Commissioner of Correction, 316 Conn. 113; see also Danforth v. Minnesota, 552 U.S. 264, 280-81, 128 S.Ct. 1029, 169 L.Ed.2d 859 (2008) (" [T]he Teague rule of nonretroactivity was fashioned to achieve the goals of federal habeas while minimizing federal intrusion into state criminal proceedings. It was intended to limit the authority of federal courts to overturn state convictions--not to limit a state court's authority to grant relief for violations of new rules of constitutional law when reviewing its own [s]tate's convictions." ). We therefore remain free to " apply the Teague analysis more liberally than the United States Supreme Court would otherwise apply it where a particular state interest is better served by a broader retroactivity ruling." State v. Mares, 335 P.3d 504; see also Rhoades v. State, 149 Idaho 130, 139, 233 P.3d 61 (2010) (because comity concerns do not apply to state court's review of state's convictions, Idaho courts are " not required to blindly follow [the United States Supreme Court's] view of . . . whether a new rule is a watershed rule" ), cert. denied, 562 U.S. 1258, 131 S.Ct. 1571, 179 L.Ed.2d 477 (2011).

Every court that has considered whether Miller applies retroactively to cases on collateral review under Teague has concluded

Page 1039

that Miller announced a new rule. See, e.g., State v. Mares, 335 P.3d 505 (" we have found no decision addressing the retroactivity of Miller that concluded [that Miller did not announce a new rule]" ).[7] There is a split of authority, however, as to [317 Conn. 65] whether Miller satisfies either of Teague 's exceptions.[8] Many courts have recognized that it is difficult to categorize Miller as either substantive or procedural, as its holding has characteristics of both types of rules. State v. Mantich, 287 Neb. 320, 339, 842 N.W.2d 716 (" how the rule announced in Miller should be categorized is [317 Conn. 66] difficult, because it does not neatly fall into the existing definitions of either a procedural rule or a substantive rule" ), cert. denied, __ U.S. __, 135 S.Ct. 67, 190 L.Ed.2d 229 (2014); State v. Mares, 506 (" [t]he question whether Miller announces a substantive or a procedural rule is not one that has been easily answered . . . because the holding has aspects of both" ). Indeed, the holding in Miller was predicated on the " confluence" of two strands of the court's proportionality jurisprudence; Miller v. Alabama, 132 S.Ct. 2464; one strand applying categorical bars, which must apply

Page 1040

retroactively,[9] and the other strand concerning individualized sentencing determinations, which may not apply retroactively.[10] Id., 2463.

Acknowledging the Supreme Court's narrow view of Teague 's second exception, those courts that have held that Miller applies retroactively have relied on Teague 's first exception. These courts have determined that Miller announced a new substantive rule in that it held unconstitutional the mandatory imposition of a sentence [317 Conn. 67] of life without parole on a class of offenders. See, e.g., State v. Ragland, 836 N.W.2d 107, 117 (Iowa 2013); State v. Mantich, 287 Neb. 340-41; State v. Mares, 335 P.3d 508. Notably, these courts have recognized that the rule in Miller has a procedural component to it and that it would be " 'terribly unfair'" to refrain from applying Miller retroactively, but nonetheless characterized the case as announcing a substantive rule, rather than a watershed procedural rule. State v. Ragland, 117; State v. Mantich, 342; State v. Mares, 508.

We agree with every other court that has considered the issue that Miller created a " new rule." See footnote 7 of this opinion. When the petitioner's conviction became final in 2000, existing precedent did not compel the conclusion that it was unconstitutional to impose a life sentence without the possibility of parole on a juvenile offender. Indeed, the cases on which the court relied in Miller, Roper and Graham -- were decided several years after the petitioner's conviction became final. See Thiersaint v. Commissioner of Correction, 316 Conn. 103 (" a case announces a new rule if the result was not dictated by precedent existing at the time the defendant's conviction became final" [internal quotation marks omitted]); Diatchenko v. District Attorney, 466 Mass. 655, 662, 1 N.E.3d 270 (2013) (cases decided before Miller " suggested the opposite result from the one ultimately reached in Miller " ); Chambers v. State, 831 N.W.2d 311, 325 (Minn. 2013) (" when [the petitioner's] conviction became final in 1999, Roper and Graham had not been decided yet and Miller was certainly not 'dictated by precedent'" ).

We also agree that it is difficult to categorize Miller squarely in one of Teague's exceptions or the other. Nonetheless, we conclude that the rule in Miller requiring that a sentencing authority conduct an individualized sentencing procedure

Page 1041

and consider the mitigating [317 Conn. 68] circumstances of youth before sentencing a juvenile offender to a life sentence without parole is more properly characterized as a procedural, rather than a substantive, rule. " [R]ules that regulate only the manner of determining the defendant's culpability are procedural." (Emphasis omitted.) Schriro v. Summerlin, 542 U.S. 353. " [A] rule that alters the manner of determining culpability merely raise[s] the possibility that someone convicted with use of the invalidated procedure might have been acquitted otherwise. . . . Applying this understanding to new rules governing sentences and punishments, a new procedural rule creates the possibility that the defendant would have received a less severe punishment but does not necessitate such a result. Accordingly, a rule is procedural when it affects how and under what framework a punishment may be imposed but leaves intact the state's fundamental legal authority to seek the imposition of the punishment on a defendant currently subject to the punishment." (Citation omitted; internal quotation marks omitted.) People v. Carp, 496 Mich. 440, 481, 852 N.W.2d 801 (2014).

The court in Miller did not eliminate the power of a state to impose a punishment of life imprisonment without the possibility of parole. Rather, it required that a sentencing authority follow a certain process before imposing that sentence. See In re Morgan, 713 F.3d 1365, 1368 (11th Cir. 2013); People v. Carp, 496 Mich. 482; Chambers v. State, 831 N.W.2d 328. The court in Miller itself acknowledged that it was not " categorically bar[ring] a penalty," but instead was requiring only that a " sentencer follow a certain process " before imposing that penalty. (Emphasis added.) Miller v. Alabama, 132 S.Ct. 2471; but see id., 2469 (expressly leaving open question whether punishment must be categorically barred for all, or certain, juvenile offenders). Although Miller has a substantive component, in that it only requires this sentencing procedure [317 Conn. 69] for a category of offenders; see footnote 9 of this opinion; the focus in Miller on the process by which juveniles can be sentenced to life without parole leads us to conclude that, for purposes of Teague, Miller announced a procedural rule.

We further conclude that the rule in Miller is a watershed rule of criminal procedure for purposes of our court's application of the second exception of Teague. A watershed rule of criminal procedure is one that (1) is " implicit in the concept of ordered liberty," and that " alter[s] our understanding of the bedrock procedural elements" essential to a proceeding; (emphasis omitted; internal quotation marks omitted) Teague v. Lane, 489 U.S. 311; such that a proceeding conducted without the benefit of that rule " implicate[s] . . . fundamental fairness" ; [11] id., 312; and (2) is " central to an accurate determination of innocence or guilt," such that the rule's absence creates an impermissibly large risk that innocent persons will be convicted. Id., 313; see also Sawyer v. Smith, 497 U.S. 242. In the sentencing

Page 1042

context, where the issue is no longer one of guilt or innocence, the second criterion asks whether the new procedure is central to an accurate determination that the sentence imposed is a proportionate one. See Schriro v. Summerlin, 542 U.S. 359 (Breyer, J., dissenting).[12]

[317 Conn. 70] We conclude that Miller satisfies this test. In Miller, the court barred a scheme that failed to account for the mitigating circumstances of youth. The court in Miller posited that, upon proper consideration of " children's diminished culpability and heightened capacity for change," it would be " uncommon" for a sentencing authority to impose the harsh penalty of a life sentence without parole. Miller v. Alabama, 132 S.Ct. 2469. Because Miller, in effect, set forth a presumption that a juvenile offender would not receive a life sentence without parole upon due consideration of the mitigating factors of youth, the decision acknowledges that the procedures it prescribed would impact the sentence imposed in most cases. See State v. Riley, 315 Conn. 655 ( Miller " suggests that the mitigating factors of youth establish . . . a presumption against imposing a life sentence without parole on a juvenile offender that must be overcome by evidence of unusual circumstances" ). Thus, the individualized sentencing prescribed by Miller is " central to an accurate determination" ; Teague v. Lane, 489 U.S. 313; that the sentence imposed is a proportionate one. See Saffle v. Parks, 494 U.S. 484, 507, 110 S.Ct. 1257, 108 L.Ed.2d 415 (1990) (Brennan, J., ...


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