October 15, 2018
from Superior Court, Judicial District of New Haven,
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V. Patterson, senior assistant public defender, with whom was
Beth A. Merkin, public defender, for the appellant
Patterson, deputy assistant states attorney, with whom, on
the brief, were Patrick J. Griffin, states attorney, and
Matthew A. Weiner and Lisa M. DAngelo, assistant states
attorneys, for the appellee (state).
Rinehart, New Haven, filed a brief for the Connecticut
Psychiatric Society as amicus curiae.
C. J., and Palmer, McDonald, DAuria, Mullins, Kahn and
Conn. 381] Under the federal constitutions prohibition of
cruel and unusual punishments, a juvenile offender cannot
serve a sentence of imprisonment for life, or its functional
equivalent, without the possibility of parole, unless his age
and the hallmarks of adolescence have been considered as
mitigating factors. Miller v. Alabama, 567 U.S. 460,
476-77, 132 S.Ct. 2455, 183 L.Ed.2d 407 (2012); Casiano
v. Commissioner of Correction, 317 Conn. 52, 60-61, 115
A.3d 1031 (2015), cert. denied sub nom. Semple v.
Casiano, __ U.S. __, 136 S.Ct. 1364, 194 L.Ed.2d 376
(2016); State v. Riley, 315 Conn. 637, 641, 110 A.3d
1205 (2015), cert. denied, __ U.S. __, 136 S.Ct. 1361, 194
L.Ed.2d 376 (2016). The defendant, William McCleese, a
juvenile offender, was originally serving a sentence of
imprisonment for the functional equivalent of his life
without the possibility of parole, in violation of this
constitutional mandate. Because of subsequent legislation,
however, he will be eligible for parole in or about 2033.
This appeal requires us to decide whether the legislature may
remedy the constitutional violation with parole eligibility.
We conclude that it may and has done so.
following undisputed facts and procedural history, as
contained in the record
and the Appellate [333 Conn. 382] Courts decision in the
defendants direct appeal, are relevant to this appeal. The
defendant was seventeen years old when he and a partner shot
and killed one victim and injured another. State v.
McCleese, 94 Conn.App. 510, 512, 892 A.2d 343, cert.
denied, 278 Conn. 908, 899 A.2d 36 (2006). In 2003, a jury
found the defendant guilty of murder in violation of General
Statutes § 53a-54a (a), conspiracy to commit murder in
violation of § 53a-54a (a) and General Statutes § 53a-48 (a),
and assault in the first degree in violation of General
Statutes § 53a-59 (a) (5). Id., at 511, 892 A.2d
defendant received a total effective sentence of eighty-five
years of imprisonment without eligibility for parole,
including sixty years on the conviction of murder. Although
the sentencing court, Harper, J ., considered other
mitigating evidence and mentioned the defendants youth
several times, there is no express reference in the record
that it specifically considered youth as a mitigating factor,
which, at the time, was not a constitutional requirement. See
Miller v. Alabama, supra, 567 U.S. at 460, 132 S.Ct.
2455. The Appellate Court affirmed his conviction on direct
appeal; State v. McCleese, supra, 94 Conn.App. at
521, 892 A.2d 343; and this court denied his petition for
certification to appeal from the Appellate Courts judgment.
State v. McCleese, 278 Conn. 908, 899 A.2d 36
decisions by the United States Supreme Court, decisions by
this court, and enactments by our legislature resulted in
changes to the sentencing scheme for juvenile offenders.
Those changes will be set forth more fully in this opinion,
but a brief summary helps to understand the procedural
posture of this case. Specifically, the United States Supreme
Court in Miller held that the eighth amendments
prohibition on cruel and unusual punishments is violated when
a juvenile offender serves a mandatory sentence of life
imprisonment without the possibility of parole because it
renders "youth (and all that accompanies it) irrelevant
to imposition [333 Conn. 383] of that harshest prison
sentence" and "poses too great a risk of
disproportionate punishment." Miller v.
Alabama, supra, 567 U.S. at 479, 132 S.Ct. 2455. Thus, an
offenders age and the hallmarks of adolescence must be
considered as mitigating factors before a juvenile can serve
this particular sentence. This court has interpreted
Miller to apply not only to mandatory sentences for
the literal life of the offender, but also to discretionary
sentences and sentences that result in imprisonment for the
"functional equivalent" of an offenders life.
State v. Riley, supra, 315 Conn. at 642, 654, 110
A.3d 1205; see also Casiano v. Commissioner of
Correction, supra, 317 Conn. at 72, 115 A.3d 1031. We also
have ruled that Miller applies not only
prospectively, but retroactively, and also to challenges to
sentences on collateral review. Casiano v. Commissioner
of Correction, supra, at 71, 115 A.3d 1031.
comport with federal constitutional requirements, the
legislature passed No. 15-84 of the 2015 Public Acts (P.A.
15-84). In relevant part, the act
retroactively provided parole eligibility to juvenile
offenders sentenced to more than ten years in prison. See
P.A. 15-84, § 1. As a result, the defendant is no longer
serving a sentence without the possibility of parole—
be parole eligible after serving thirty years, when he is
about fifty years old.
Conn. 385] Following these developments, the defendant filed
a motion to correct an illegal sentence. He asserted a
Miller claim under the federal constitution and a
similar claim under the state constitution. Initially,
the trial court, Clifford, J ., ruled in the
defendants favor on his federal constitutional claim but
reserved ruling on a remedy for the federal violation and on
the merits of the state constitutional claim.
days after the trial courts initial ruling on the motion to
correct an illegal sentence, the United States Supreme Court
held that Miller applied retroactively.
Montgomery v. Louisiana, __ U.S. __, 136 S.Ct. 718,
732, 193 L.Ed.2d 599 (2016). In other words, a
Miller violation existed if a juvenile offender was
serving life without parole without the trial courts having
considered the Miller factors, even if the
sentencing took place before Miller had been
decided. Although this court in Casiano had already
established that Miller applied retroactively,
critically, Montgomery also made clear that
"[Miller s] retroactive effect ... does not
require [s]tates to relitigate sentences, let alone
convictions, in every case [in which] a juvenile offender
received mandatory life without parole. A [s]tate may remedy
a Miller violation by permitting juvenile homicide
offenders to be considered for parole, rather than by
resentencing them." Id., at 736.
on Montgomery, the state filed a motion to
reconsider the trial courts ruling granting the defendants
[333 Conn. 386] motion to correct an illegal sentence. After
briefing and argument, the court granted the motion to
reconsider, concluded that the defendants Miller
claim was now moot under both the federal and state
constitutions, and dismissed the motion to correct an illegal
sentence. The defendant appealed from that decision to the
Appellate Court. The defendants appeal was then transferred
to this court. See Practice Book § 65-2.
this appeal, we must decide whether the trial court had
subject matter jurisdiction over the defendants motion to
correct an illegal sentence. Subject matter jurisdiction
"involves the authority of the court to adjudicate the
type of controversy presented by the action before it."
(Internal quotation marks omitted.) Ajadi v. Commissioner
of Correction, 280 Conn. 514, 533, 911 A.2d 712 (2006).
The existence of jurisdiction is a question of law, and our
review is plenary. Id., at 532, 911 A.2d 712. A
trial court generally has no authority to modify a sentence
but retains limited subject matter jurisdiction to correct an
illegal sentence or a sentence imposed in an illegal manner.
State v. Delgado, 323 Conn. 801, 809, 151 A.3d 345
(2016). Practice Book § 43-22 codifies this
common-law rule. Id. Therefore, we must decide
"whether the defendant has raised a colorable claim
within the scope of Practice Book § 43-22 .... In the absence
of a colorable claim requiring correction, the trial court
has no jurisdiction ...." (Citation omitted.)
Id., at 810, 151 A.3d 345.
present case, whether the defendant has made out a colorable
claim depends on (1) whether the parole eligibility afforded
by P.A. 15-84 adequately remedies an unconstitutional
sentence under the state constitution, (2) whether,
consistent with separation of powers [333 Conn. 387]
principles embodied in the Connecticut
constitution, the legislature may remedy an
unconstitutional sentence that was imposed by the judiciary,
and (3) whether P.A. 15-84 violates the defendants right to
equal protection. We hold that the defendant has not made out
a colorable claim and that the trial court lacked
jurisdiction over his motion.
defendant first claims that the parole eligibility afforded
by P.A. 15-84, § 1, does not remedy a Miller
violation under the Connecticut constitution. Specifically,
he argues that a juvenile sentenced to fifty years or more
without consideration of the Miller factors must be
resentenced in accordance with Miller, regardless of
whether he is eligible for parole. We disagree and conclude
that parole eligibility under P.A. 15-84, § 1, is an adequate
remedy for a Miller violation under our state
constitution just as it is under the federal constitution.
court has not yet addressed this issue. In State v.
Geisler, 222 Conn. 672, 684-85, 610 A.2d 1225 (1992),
"we identified six nonexclusive tools of analysis to be
considered, to the extent applicable, whenever we are called
on as a matter of first impression to define the scope and
parameters of the state constitution: (1) persuasive relevant
federal precedents; (2) historical insights into the intent
of our constitutional forebears; (3) the operative
constitutional text; (4) related Connecticut precedents; (5)
persuasive precedents of other states; and (6) contemporary
understandings of applicable economic and sociological norms,
or, as otherwise described, relevant public policies....
These factors, [333 Conn. 388] [commonly referred to as the
Geisler factors and] which we consider in turn,
inform our application of the established state
constitutional standards— standards that ... derive
from United States Supreme Court precedent concerning the
eighth amendment— to the defendants claims in the
present case." (Citations omitted.) State v.
Santiago, 318 Conn. 1, 17-18, 122 A.3d 1 (2015).
not critical to a proper Geisler analysis that we
discuss the various factors in any particular order or even
that we address each factor. See Doe v. Hartford Roman
Catholic Diocesan Corp., 317 Conn. 357, 408, 119 A.3d
462 (2015). Because the point of departure that the defendant
advocates for requires an understanding of the federal
jurisprudence on the sentencing of juveniles, we begin with a
survey of those precedents.
Federal precedent requires special treatment of juveniles
when especially harsh punishments are imposed. The cases
justify this treatment, in part, by acknowledging that
juveniles are less deserving of criminal punishment and are
more capable of change than their adult counterparts. But
federal case law also relies on the severity of the
punishments at issue in these cases: death and life
imprisonment without parole. Precisely because these
punishments are irrevocable, they are "disproportionate
for the vast majority of juvenile offenders ...."
Montgomery v. Louisiana, supra, 136 S.Ct. at 736.
This rationale does not support similar special treatment of
juveniles who are parole eligible, notwithstanding the length
of the sentence imposed, because they are afforded the
opportunity to "demonstrate the truth of
Millers central intuition— that children who
commit even heinous crimes are capable of change."
Conn. 389] 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." U.S. Const., amend. VIII. The
cruel and unusual punishments clause has been understood to
bar "(1) inherently barbaric punishments; (2) excessive
and disproportionate punishments; and (3) arbitrary or
discriminatory punishments." State v. Santiago,
supra, 318 Conn. at 19, 122 A.3d 1. "For the most part,
however, the [United States Supreme] Courts precedents
consider punishments challenged ... as disproportionate to
the crime. The concept of proportionality is central to the
[e]ighth [a]mendment." Graham v. Florida, 560
U.S. 48, 59, 130 S.Ct. 2011, 176 L.Ed.2d 825');">176 L.Ed.2d 825 (2010). There
are two types of proportionality challenges: (1)
"challenges to the length of term-of-years sentences
given all the circumstances in a particular case," and
(2) categorical challenges balancing "the nature of the
offense ... [or] the characteristics of the offender"
against a particular type of sentence. Id., at 60,
130 S.Ct. 2011.
United States Supreme Courts juvenile sentencing cases have
involved categorical proportionality challenges, as does the
defendants claim in this appeal. Therefore, in this context,
the court has weighed the characteristics of juvenile
offenders against the severity of sentences of death or life
imprisonment without parole.
hand, the court has considered "the unique aspects of
adolescence ...." State v. Riley, supra, 315
Conn. at 644-45, 110 A.3d 1205. It repeatedly has recognized
that "children are constitutionally different from
adults for purposes of sentencing." Miller v.
Alabama, supra, 567 U.S. at 471, 132 S.Ct. 2455. Juvenile
offenders have "diminished culpability and greater
prospects for reform" than their adult counterparts
because they are less mature, more vulnerable to external
influences like peers, and have character traits that are not
yet fully ingrained. Id. These observations
"[rest] not only on common sense— on [333 Conn.
390] what any parent knows— but on science and social
science ...." Id. And, none of them is crime
specific. Id., at 473, 132 S.Ct. 2455.
other hand, the court has considered the severity of the
punishments imposed: death or life imprisonment without
parole. Sentence severity is critical to a categorical
proportionality analysis. Prior to Graham,
categorical challenges had been applied only to the death
penalty. Graham v. Florida, supra, 560 U.S. at 59,
130 S.Ct. 2011; see also Kennedy v. Louisiana, 554
U.S. 407, 438, 128 S.Ct. 2641, 171 L.Ed.2d 525 (2008)
(nonhomicide offenders); Roper v. Simmons, 543 U.S.
551, 568, 125 S.Ct. 1183, 161 L.Ed.2d 1');">161 L.Ed.2d 1 (2005) (juvenile
Atkins v. Virginia, 536 U.S. 304, 318, 122 S.Ct.
2242, 153 L.Ed.2d 335 (2002) (offenders with limited
intellectual functioning). For juvenile offenders, however,
the court extended categorical challenges to apply to
sentences of life imprisonment without parole in certain
contexts. Graham v. Florida, supra, at 61, 130 S.Ct.
2011. It first banned all sentences of life without parole
for juvenile nonhomicide offenders; id., at 82, 130
S.Ct. 2011; and then the mandatory imposition of sentences of
life without parole for juvenile homicide offenders.
Miller v. Alabama, supra, 567 U.S. at 465, 132 S.Ct.
in particular, justified the extension of the categorical
approach for two reasons, both of which relate to the
irrevocability of a life-without-parole punishment. First,
the court stated that traditional penological justifications
could not warrant a mandatory, irrevocable punishment for a
juvenile. Id., at 472, 132 S.Ct. 2455. Most relevant
here, if a sentencing court determines that an offender is
incapable of change, then incapacitation and the
impossibility of rehabilitation justify his permanent
imprisonment. See id., at 472-73, 132 S.Ct. 2455.
But, the court noted, this determination is fundamentally
"at odds with a childs capacity for change," so it
presents a contradiction when applied to juvenile offenders.
Id., at 473, 132 S.Ct. 2455; see also id.,
at 472-73, 132 S.Ct. 2455 ("[d]eciding that a juvenile
offender [333 Conn. 391] forever will be a danger to society
would require mak[ing] a judgment that [he] is
incorrigible— but incorrigibility is inconsistent with
youth" [internal quotation marks omitted] ).
the court "liken[ed] life-without-parole sentences
imposed on juveniles to the death penalty itself."
Id., at 474, 132 S.Ct. 2455. The two "share
some characteristics ... that are shared by no other
sentences," such as irrevocability by
"[i]mprisoning an offender until he dies ...."
(Internal quotation marks omitted.) Id., at 474-75,
132 S.Ct. 2455. The comparison is even more apt in the
juvenile context: a life-without-parole sentence is
"especially harsh" for juveniles "because [a
juvenile offender] will almost inevitably serve more years
and a greater percentage of his life in prison than an adult
offender." (Internal quotation marks omitted.)
Id., at 475, 132 S.Ct. 2455. Moreover, life
imprisonment without parole is the "harshest possible
penalty" available for a juvenile, after Roper
barred capital punishment for juveniles. Id., at
479, 132 S.Ct. 2455. Therefore, the court "treated [life
imprisonment without parole] similarly to that most severe
punishment" by adopting "a distinctive set of legal
rules" that had been applied only in death penalty
cases. Id., at 475, 132 S.Ct. 2455. These rules
required individualized sentencing, thereby ensuring that the
most severe punishments were not inevitable but were
"reserved only for the most culpable [juvenile]
defendants committing the most serious offenses."
Id., at 476, 132 S.Ct. 2455.
when a juvenile is eligible for parole, the punishment is no
longer irrevocable, and, therefore, these rationales no
longer apply (or, at least, not nearly with as much force).
The first reason collapses if state law permits a juvenile to
become parole eligible because the punishment expressly
acknowledges that the offender might one day change and
reenter society. Similarly, the justification for
individualized sentencing— the harshness of a life
sentence without parole, which will often [333 Conn. 392]
mean a much longer period of incarceration than an adult will
have with the same sentence— weakens considerably when
state law provides an offender the chance for early release.
A punishment with the possibility of parole is surely less
harsh than one without it.
only was Millers reasoning limited to sentences
that do not include parole eligibility, but its holding was
as well. Id., at 479, 132 S.Ct. 2455 ("[w]e
therefore hold that the [e]ighth [a]mendment forbids a
sentencing scheme that mandates life in prison without
possibility of parole for juvenile offenders"). In
Montgomery, the court took the opportunity to
reiterate that life-with-parole sentences were
constitutional, as it expressly permitted states to remedy
Miller violations with parole eligibility.
"Allowing those offenders [sentenced in violation of
Miller ] to be considered for parole ensures that
juveniles whose crimes reflected only transient
immaturity— and who have since matured— will not
be forced to serve a disproportionate sentence .... The
opportunity for release will be afforded to those who
demonstrate the truth of Millers central
intuition— that children who commit even heinous crimes
are capable of change." Montgomery v.
Louisiana, supra, 136 S.Ct. at 736.
sum, the United States Supreme Courts juvenile sentencing
cases rest as much on the diminished moral culpability and
enhanced capacity for rehabilitation of a juvenile offender
as on the irrevocability of a punishment of death or life
imprisonment without parole. To dismiss the effect of parole
eligibility— which makes a punishment less severe by
affording the opportunity to demonstrate change— would
undercut their reasoning entirely.
Connecticut Constitutional Text and History
article first, § § 8 and 9, of the state constitution
establish principles of due process and serve as the basis
for Connecticuts prohibition against cruel [333 Conn. 393]
and unusual punishments but provide no insight into
Miller . See State v. Santiago, supra, 318
Conn. at 16, 122 A.3d 1 ("the constitution of
Connecticut prohibits cruel and unusual punishments under the
auspices of the dual due process provisions contained in
article first, § § 8 and 9"). The defendant does not
contend, and we have not held, that the text of these
provisions of Connecticuts constitution itself, compared
with the text of the federal constitution, suggests any
enhanced protection under the state constitution. Moreover,
although neither due process provision expressly
differentiates between juveniles and adults, we draw no
conclusion from the fact that "the framers of the 1818
constitution decided to embed these traditional [freedoms
from cruel and unusual punishments] in our dual due process
clauses ... rather than in an express punishments
clause." (Citation omitted.) Id., at 39, 122
Neither does Connecticuts constitutional history support the
defendants argument. In the early 1800s, Connecticut
accounted for the differences between juvenile and adult
offenders, but in ways plainly distinguishable from
seminal distinction was the availability of the infancy
defense: an offender less than seven years of age was
conclusively presumed incapable of committing a crime,
whereas an offender between the ages of seven and fourteen
was presumed incapable, but the presumption was rebuttable.
Offenders older than fourteen were treated as adults. In
re Tyvonne M., 211 Conn. 151, 156, 558 A.2d 661 (1989).
Other distinctions were less formal. Legislative pardons for
juveniles were inconsistent but not uncommon; N. Steenburg,
Children and the Criminal Law in Connecticut, 1635-1855:
Changing Perceptions of Childhood (2005) p. 189 (from 1810 to
1830, General Assembly granted nine of twenty petitions for
clemency by juvenile offenders, which was a higher [333 Conn.
394] percentage than
granted to adult offenders); see also A. Kean, "The
History of the Criminal Liability of Children," 53 Law.
Q. Rev. 364, 364-66 (1937) (discussing common-law recognition
in England as early as thirteenth century of lesser moral
culpability of child offenders and development of tendency to
pardon them); and juries even may have hesitated to find
juveniles guilty during this era. See N. Steenburg,
supra, p. 31 ("[t]he General Assembly heard reports
that underage criminals were aware that juries did not want
to send them to the state prison"). Eventually,
juveniles began to receive special treatment in criminal
proceedings beyond the infancy defense, such as the
appointment of guardians. Id., pp. 23-24, 186-87. By
1843, the legislature had enacted a discretionary sentencing
scheme allowing courts to send offenders under age seventeen
to less harsh county facilities instead of the state run
prisons mandated for adult offenders. Id., p. 200;
see Public Acts 1843, c. 21. And, in 1851, it established a
separate reform school to house offenders under age sixteen.
N. Steenburg, supra, pp. 204-205; see Public Acts
1851, c. 46.
these protections did not always apply. The laws in place to
protect juveniles at the time of ratification were
inconsistently followed in practice. See, e.g., N.
Steenburg, supra, p. 192 ("the use of ...
guardians was inconsistent and often ineffective"). And
the most significant reforms— discretionary sentencing
and a reform school— occurred well after the state
constitution had been adopted. Even then, although the
location where an offender would serve his sentence could be
modified, the duration could not: "Because state
sentencing guidelines did not specifically allow
consideration of mitigating circumstances, many children
served what appeared to be excessively harsh sentences ...
for crimes of youthful disobedience or heedlessness. Judges
often had no choice in assigning jail or prison sentences
because the General Assembly mandated specific sentences for
many crimes." Id., pp. 31-32. [333 Conn. 395]
This meant juveniles often received the same criminal
punishments as adults, including life imprisonment at the
states most notorious prison, Newgate, and even death. See
W. Bailey, Children Before the Courts in Connecticut (1918)
p. 19 ("it was legally possible for a boy barely over
[seven] years of age to be committed to Newgate for
life"); 2 Z. Swift, A System of the Laws of the State of
Connecticut (1796) p. 368 ("[a] boy of eight years of
age, has been executed for burning two barns"); V.
Streib & L. Sametz, "Executing Female Juveniles,"
22 Conn. L.Rev. 3, 13-15 (1989) (describing execution of
twelve year old girl in 1786).
although Connecticut historically acknowledged that juvenile
offenders are different from their adult counterparts and
developed measures to allow courts to account for the
disparity, the measures Connecticut has used are
distinguishable from the one required by Miller . In
the early 1800s, juvenile status appeared to end at an
offenders fourteenth birthday. When protections were
technically available, they were discretionary,
inconsistently applied, or both. And when protections were
actually invoked, most addressed criminal liability (e.g.,
the infancy defense) or criminal procedure (e.g., the
appointment of guardians), but not criminal punishment. Even
the states later sentence mitigation reforms were merely
permissive and only allowed a court to change the location
where a defendant would serve a sentence. Mandatory
consideration of age and the hallmarks of adolescence prior
to imposing certain punishments on juvenile offenders is a
much more recent development. Therefore, Connecticut
constitutional history does not support the defendants
argument that only resentencing, and not
parole eligibility, can remedy a Miller violation.
court has not yet addressed Miller as a matter of
substantive state law. Our prior decisions on the [333 Conn.
396] subject have been limited to procedural state law and
federal law. We, therefore, consider these cases as
persuasive precedent but conclude that they do not support a
rule that requires resentencing for punishments that include
is the only case in which we have addressed cruel and unusual
punishment as it relates specifically to juveniles under
state law, as opposed to federal law. In that case, we
concluded that Miller was a watershed rule of
criminal procedure, and, therefore, it applied retroactively
to cases arising on collateral review. Casiano v.
Commissioner of Correction, supra, 317 Conn. at 69, 71,
115 A.3d 1031. As the defendant notes, we stated broadly that
consideration of the Miller factors in sentencing
was "implicit in the concept of ordered liberty"
and "central to an accurate determination that the
sentence imposed is a proportionate one." (Internal
quotation marks omitted.) Id., at 69, 115 A.3d 1031.
But our interpretation of Miller was clearly more
limited. We recognized that Miller "set forth a
presumption that a juvenile offender would not receive a life
sentence without parole"; id., at 70, 115 A.3d
1031; and repeatedly recognized that the rule was limited to
that "particular punishment." Id., at 71,
115 A.3d 1031.
matter of federal law, this court expressly and recently has
held that parole eligibility is an adequate remedy for a
Miller violation. In State v. Delgado,
supra, 323 Conn. at 810, 151 A.3d 345, the defendant
originally had been sentenced without consideration of the
Miller factors to the functional equivalent of life
imprisonment without parole. With the enactment of P.A.
15-84, § 1, however, he became parole eligible. Id.
We held that this remedied the constitutional violation:
"[U]nder Miller, a sentencing courts
obligation to consider youth related mitigating factors is
limited to cases in which the court imposes a sentence of
life, or its equivalent, without parole.... As a result [of
P.A. 15-84, § 1], the defendants sentence no longer falls
within the purview of Miller, Riley and
Casiano, which require consideration of youth
related [333 Conn. 397] mitigating factors only if the
sentencing court imposes a sentence of life without
parole.... Miller simply does not apply when a
juveniles sentence provides an opportunity for parole
...." (Citations omitted; emphasis altered.)
Id., at 811, 151 A.3d 345; see also part II of this
court also has stated more broadly that Miller does
not apply to sentences that "lack the severity of the
sentences at issue in Roper, Graham and
Miller ." State v. Taylor G., 315
Conn. 734, 744-45, 110 A.3d 338 (2015). In Taylor G
., we concluded that a juvenile offenders mandatory total
effective sentence of ten years of incarceration followed by
three years of special parole did not violate Miller
. The court emphasized that the punishment was "far less
severe" than those at issue in the United States Supreme
Courts juvenile punishment cases because it was not
"final and irrevocable ...." Id. We
stated: "Although the deprivation of [a juveniles]
liberty for any amount of time, including a single year, is
not insignificant, Roper, Graham and
Miller cannot be read to mean that all mandatory
deprivations of liberty are of potentially constitutional
magnitude." Id., at 745, 110 A.3d
defendant notes that this court has twice— in
Riley and Casiano — interpreted
Miller to apply to punishments that it does not
expressly include. Although these cases reflect this courts
determination that the phrase "life imprisonment without
parole" should be construed beyond its literal meaning,
we have applied [333 Conn. 398] Miller only to
punishments that have a substantially similar practical
effect. Thus, the punishments at issue in Riley and
Casiano are distinguishable from punishments that
include parole eligibility under P.A. 15-84, § 1.
first case, State v. Riley, supra, at 315 Conn. 637,
110 A.3d 1205, in which we reasoned that Miller
"logically reaches beyond its core holding," we
concluded that it applied to discretionary sentences and to
sentences for terms of years that were the "functional
equivalent" of a sentence of life without parole.
Id., at 642, 654, 110 A.3d 1205. But many of the
reasons we cited for why Miller should apply to
these types of punishments do not apply when the juvenile is
parole eligible. For example, we relied on the fact that the
defendants sentence of 100 years imprisonment with the
possibility of parole after ninety-four years left him
"no possibility of parole before his natural life
expires" and ensured that he "would undoubtedly die
in prison ...." Id., at 640, 643 n.2, 660, 110
A.3d 1205. Parole eligibility after thirty years under P.A.
15-84, § 1, however, contemplates release when most juvenile
offenders will be in their late forties, thereby offering a
realistic opportunity for a life outside of prison.
in Casiano, apart from the retroactivity holding
described previously, we held that Miller applied to
a sentence of fifty years imprisonment without the
possibility of parole. Casiano v. Commissioner of
Correction, supra, 317 Conn. at 79, 115 A.3d 1031. Although
we stated that "the concept of life in Miller
and Graham [was] more [broad] than biological
survival"; id., at 78, 115 A.3d 1031; we were
ultimately concerned with "the sense of
hopelessness" that accompanies a life-without-parole
sentence, which "means that good behavior and character
improvement are immaterial ...." (Internal quotation
marks omitted.) Id., at 78-79, 115 A.3d 1031,
quoting Graham v. Florida, supra, 560 U.S. at 70,
130 S.Ct. 2011. Conversely, parole eligibility offers hope
and makes an offenders future conduct
Conn. 399] Thus, Connecticut precedent indicates only that
this court has been willing to interpret Miller
beyond its literal meaning, but not so far as to require
resentencing for punishments that include parole eligibility
under P.A. 15-84, § 1.
Sibling State Precedent
defendant argues that sibling state comparisons are not
helpful in our analysis because certain aspects of
Connecticuts juvenile punishment scheme— most notably,
a parole system in which eligibility is based in part on the
length of the sentence— are unique to this state.
Although Connecticuts parole system appears to be distinct
in this respect, we note that our essential holding in
Delgado that Miller does not require
resentencing for a punishment that includes parole
eligibility is consistent with other jurisdictions. See
State v. Delgado, supra, 323 Conn. at 811-12 n.7,
151 A.3d 345 (citing jurisdictions); see also, e.g.,
Talbert v. State, No. 64486, 2016 WL 562778, *1
(Nev. February 10, 2016) (parole eligibility "within
[offenders] lifetime"); State v. Charles, 892
N.W.2d 915, 920-21 (S.D.) (parole eligibility at age sixty),
cert. denied, __ U.S. __, 138 S.Ct. 407, 199 L.Ed.2d 299
(2017). Similarly, other jurisdictions have held that their
state constitutions do not require a court to consider the
Miller factors before imposing a punishment that
includes parole eligibility. E.g., State v. Propps,897 N.W.2d 91, 102 (Iowa 2017) (punishment including
"realistic and meaningful" ...