UPDATE: On February 11, Judge Evelyn Baker, the judge who sentenced Mr. Bostic to die in prison asked the United States Supreme Court to add her name to the list of judges asking the Court to hear Bobby Bostic's case.
Phillips Black represents a group of twenty-six former judges and prosecutors who have asked the United States Supreme Court to grant the ACLU’s application for certiorari in the case of Bobby Bostic. Mr. Bostic was sentenced to die in prison for his role as an accomplice in robberies committed one night when he was 16 years old. The ACLU has asked the High Court to reverse the decision of the Missouri Supreme Court, which upheld Mr. Bostic’s sentence. As amicus curiae in support of Mr. Bostic, the group includes the very judge who sentenced Mr. Bostic as well as two former United States Solicitors General and a Missouri Supreme Court Chief Justice.
In joining the call to for Supreme Court review, the sentencing judge has expressed her change in approach to juveniles sentencing: "At the time that I sentenced Bobby Bostic, the laws were different: it was constitutional to execute a juvenile. When I sentenced Bobby there had been no studies on how the brain developed. We simply did not know then what we know now about juveniles." Click here for the full press release.
The brief can be found here.
For Bobby Bostic’s nonhomicide offenses, the judge imposed an aggregate sentence of 241 years. Mr. Bostic will not be parole eligible until he is 112 years old. In issuing the sentence, the judge made it clear that Mr. Bostic would “die in the department of corrections” because “nobody in this room is going to be alive” when he becomes eligible for parole.
The group argued that the sentence violates the United States Supreme Court’s decision in Graham v. Florida, 560 U.S. 48 (2010). Graham held that sentences of life without possibility of parole for juvenile nonhomicide offenders violate the Eighth Amendment. States must provide a “meaningful opportunity to obtain release based on demonstrated maturity and rehabilitation.” Id. at 75.
Mr. Bostic's sentence circumvents Graham in another important way: by punishing juvenile offenders more harshly because of their youth. The sentencing court punished Mr. Bostic for his immaturity and susceptibility to peer pressure in refusing to accept a plea. In contrast, his older co-defendant, who was savvier with law enforcement, accepted a plea and was sentenced to 30 years.
In the 21 years since his crime, Mr. Bostic has been a model prisoner. He has completed numerous institutional programs focused on rehabilitation and restorative justice. He has sought out countless educational opportunities, obtaining his high school equivalency test in 1998, a paralegal diploma in 2010, and completing college courses in victim advocacy and business studies.