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Gowdy Wins Landmark Supreme Court Decision
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Bryan Gowdy, of the Jacksonville appellate firm Mills Creed & Gowdy, earned a victory yesterday when the US Supreme Court issued a landmark decision regarding the Eighth Amendment in Graham v. Florida, reports the Jacksonville Daily Record.   Terrance Graham, a juvenile when he committed armed burglary seven years ago, violated his parole by committing other crimes, and was subsequently handed a life sentence without the possibility of parole.

The Eighth Amendment, which reads “[e]xcessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted” in its terseness and ambiguity has long been the subject of mixed interpretation for the courts.  In a 2005 decision in Roper v. Simmons, the Supreme Court ruled that minors should be held to a different standard due to their lack of maturity, the inability to often understand the consequences of their actions and far lower rate of recidivism, but this was only applied to cases that involved the death penalty.

In this particular instance, Graham challenged that interpretation, arguing that the courts had the power to invalidate other types of sentences – that, in essence, a life sentence without the option of parole was cruel and unusual – based on very same factors considered in Roper.   According to Daily Record, the case will most likely make its way back to Florida’s Fourth Circuit, before the same judge that originally sentenced Terrance, due that judge’s familiarity with the underlying facts and evidence presented in the case.

  
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