New Hampshire rules Miller is retroactive

The New Hampshire Supreme Court has ruled unanimously that the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Miller v. Alabama must be applied retroactively.

This ruling means that people who were sentenced to mandatory life without parole for crimes committed as children are eligible for relief and resentencing, including those who were sentenced before the U.S. Supreme Court ruled on June 25, 2012 that it is unconstitutional to impose such sentences upon children.

The State of New Hampshire argued that the Miller ruling simply required that courts hold a hearing before sentencing a child to life without parole and that as a procedural rule, Miller should not be applied retroactively. The New Hampshire Supreme Court found that the ruling is not simply procedural but about the actual rights of children being sentenced. “Consequently, we find that the respondents are entitled to the retroactive benefit of the Miller rule in post-conviction proceedings,” the ruling states.

New Hampshire is the seventh state to hold that Miller must be applied retroactively. High courts in Iowa, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Texas, Illinois and Nebraska also have ruled that Miller should be applied retroactively. Courts in Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota and Pennsylvania have ruled that Miller is not retroactive.

(September 2, 2014)