December 29, 2011 13:56 Age: 2 yrs

Professor Duncanís work cited in New Yorker Article on Juvenile Life Sentences

The work of Emory Law Professor Martha-Grace Duncan is cited in a January 2012 New Yorker article by Rachel Aviv titled, "No Remorse: Should a Teenager be Given a Life Sentence?"

The story examines the trial and punishment of 14-year-old Dakotah Eliason, convicted of fatally shooting his grandfather in 2010. Eliason was tried as an adult for first-degree homicide, which in Michigan carries a mandatory sentence of life in prison without possibility of parole.

Aviv referenced Duncanís 2002 paper, ďíSo Young and So Untender': Remorseless Children and the Expectations of the Law," published in the Columbia Law Review, on cases of juveniles charged with violent crimes. When juveniles didn't show contrition promptly and in an adult manner they were punished for showing "less grief than the system demands," Duncan wrote.

In many juvenile cases, the defendants "appeared to be in shock or a kind or in a kind of disassociative state, and failed to understand the permanence of what they had done,Ē Aviv wrote, paraphrasing Duncan.

Before sentencing, Eliasonís attorney argued the life sentence without possibility of parole violated the 8th Amendment provision against cruel and unusual punishment.

"Life imprisonment for juveniles is forbidden by the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, a treaty ratified by every country in the world except the United States and Somalia," Aviv notes in the article.

This month, Eliason had a hearing in the Michigan Court of Appeals requesting a new trial, based on his attorney not calling upon expert witnesses to testify about why Eliason didnít show remorse.


Related links:

Read The New Yorker story

Professor Duncanís profile


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