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State v. Jai'Mar Scott, WSSC #94020-7

On July 28, 2017 WACDL filed a joint amicus brief with the ACLU, Columbia Legal Services, Juvenile Law Center, National Juvenile Defender Center, Teamchild, and WDA on behalf of Mr. Scott on the question of whether retroactive application of Miller v. Alabama, 567 U.S. 460 (2012) to a de facto life sentence for a crime committed as a juvenile is a significant and material change in the law sufficient to overcome the 1-year limitation for a challenge to the sentence imposed. Or is the legislative Miller fix contained in RCW 9.94A.730 a sufficient remedy.


Petition for review accepted by WSSC


Jai'Mar Scott was sentenced to a 900 month (75 year) sentence for a murder committed when he was 17 years old. Under the law at the time, there was no consideration by the sentencing court of the fact of his diminished capacity and culpability based on his youth. These arguments were rejected on appeal as approaching the "absurd". Following the Supreme Court decision Miller v. Alabama Mr. Scott filed a motion to vacate his sentence and that he be resentenced consistent with constitutional requirements. The motion was granted by the trial court, the state appealed, and the COA reversed finding that the motion was untimely pursuant to RCW 10.73.090.

WADCL Amicus

WACDL amicus focused on the COA opinion that Mr. Scott's motion was untimely and procedurally barred under RCW 10.73.090 for being beyond 1-year from the judgement being attacked, and that Miller v. Alabama was not material to his sentence allowing for an exception to the 1-year time bar because RCW 9.94A.730 provides an opportunity to petition for early release from his unconstitutional sentence.


The court acknowledged that under Montgomery v. Louisiana, ___ U.S. ___, 136 S.Ct. 718, 193 L. Ed. 599 (2016) Miller applies retroactively, but the parole provision contained in RCW 9.94A.730 is an adequate remedy for a Miller violation, rendering unnecessary the resentencing of a defendant who long ago received a de facto life sentence as juvenile. Because this opportunity for parole is an adequate remedy and resentencing is not warranted, the court held that it could not grant Mr. Scott any relief.

WACDL Amicus Authors

Joint brief with ACLU Rita Griffith signed for WACDL

Appellate Author

Jeffrey Ellis

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