First DCA: Supreme Court Should Look at Long Juve Sentence

By: David Royse, The News Service of Florida
By: David Royse, The News Service of Florida


David Royse, The News Service of Florida

The state Supreme Court should determine whether a 70-year sentence for a 14-year-old essentially amounts to life in prison, and therefore should be barred, a lower court said Tuesday.

A three judge panel of the 1st District Court of Appeal in Tallahassee ruled unanimously on Tuesday that it doesn't in the case of Shimeek Gridine, who was convicted after guilty pleas to attempted murder and armed robbery in a 2009 case.

Gridine, who had to be sentenced to at least 25 years because he used a gun in the crime, was sentenced to 70 years in prison. His lawyers argued that such a long sentence would mean he very well might die in prison, making the sentence effectively a life term. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled recently that juveniles can't be sentenced to life in prison for crimes other than murder.

The 1st DCA first rejected Gridine's appeal in 2011, saying that the U.S. Supreme Court specifically ruled that such "functional life sentences" only applied to juveniles sentenced to life without parole – which wasn't the case in Gridine's situation.

Gridine's lawyers asked for a rehearing on the issue, and on Tuesday a different three judge panel than the one that ruled against him two years ago rejected that request.

But in doing so, the appeals court asked the state Supreme Court to weigh in on whether a 70-year sentence is functionally a life sentence for a 14-year-old and thereby barred by the U.S. Supreme Court ruling.

Courts have ruled in different ways on the question since the U.S. Supreme Court ban on life sentences for juveniles. Just last month, the 1st DCA said an 80-year sentence handed down to an Escambia County 17-year-old was unconstitutional.

During the previous two legislative sessions, lawmakers have considered legislation aimed at dealing with the question, but have failed to pass a bill. This past session the House passed a bill that would have required a review of the sentence after 25 years for any juvenile sentenced to life or any other long sentence. That measure failed to pass the Senate, however.

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  • by My2Cents Location: Tallahassee on May 31, 2012 at 10:43 AM
    They need to build some PRISONS for these "teenagers" who are doing ADULT crimes and just house all of them together for the term of their sentences and let them live happily ever after away from law abiding citizens.
  • by Anonymous on May 31, 2012 at 07:36 AM
    70 years (first 25 mandatory). So he'll serve 25 years. Then, he can get "gain time" on his remaining 45 years. By current law, he must serve at least 85% of a sentence. 85% of 45 is 38.25. 38.25 25 = 63.25. He'll be out when he's 77. Fine by me.
  • by Sarah Location: Georgia on May 31, 2012 at 06:32 AM
    I can't believe the comments being entered on this article. everybody knows that 70 years is too long for a juvenile to sentenced. How is it that we say they are adult at 18 but when the situation fits us, we change the rule. Just remeber each post you have submitted because on the day of judgment you will be reminded by God that you feel a person should be punished. God has asked us to let him do the separation and we have taken over the job. Stop all of this evil and tell Satan to move on because Satan is turning many of you into his allies. Bring God back in the picture and Satan will disappear before you can say the name of Jesus.
    • reply
      by No Thanks on May 31, 2012 at 07:36 AM in reply to Sarah
      No thanks, Sarah. History has proven too many times to count in a rational mind depending on others to solve societal problems absolutely positively indisputably does not work. By the way, God has never said, written, or even hinted, ANYTHING. Ever. Not even one time. Get a grip, or at least make an effort to.
  • by Anonymous on May 30, 2012 at 11:19 PM
    70 years is NOT a life term. Nor is someone that has 455 years. Its still not a life term regardless of how long it is. He got 70 years, he might live to be that old, he might die tomorrow of a heart attack. So a two day sentance could effectively be a 'life' term?? Good riddance I say.
  • by Anonymous on May 30, 2012 at 02:17 PM
    This is good law. Some chumps will pay to imprison this youth for 70 years. Who might those chumps be? Your great grandchildren will be paying to keep this youth incarcerated well into his old age. The answer is: You and your children and your grandchildren and your great grandchildren are the aforementioned chumps.
    • reply
      by GV on May 31, 2012 at 04:52 AM in reply to
      So?That's where tax dollors should be spent,stupid.You sure didn't seem to mind that your grandchildren are already in debt before they are even born to pay for obamacare.
  • by Reagan Republican on May 30, 2012 at 01:09 PM
    I hope the state Supreme Court does the right thing by acknowledging that a 14 year old does not have the maturity level of an adult and should not have a life long sentence imposed by the judical system.
    • reply
      by Truth on May 30, 2012 at 02:34 PM in reply to Reagan Republican
      commit an adult crime do adult time!!!!
      • reply
        by Reagan Republican on May 30, 2012 at 06:49 PM in reply to Truth
        Some of these teenagers are in jail because they were with an older crowd who did the wrong but they got equally charged under the law. Some of them had absolutely no male adults in their home life who could have taught them how to be honest male citizens.
        • reply
          by GV on May 31, 2012 at 04:51 AM in reply to Reagan Republican
          So?Not my fault. Why should people like me and others have to worry about some hoodlum running around when he should be locked up for doing an adult crime just because he didn't have a father?Lots of people don't have fathers and they don't get into any trouble.
    • reply
      by Right on May 30, 2012 at 03:18 PM in reply to Reagan Republican
      I completely agree. Once found guilty they should be quick fried to a crackly crisp within 30days.
    • reply
      by frog on May 30, 2012 at 04:36 PM in reply to Reagan Republican
      so your less DEAD if your Killed by a 14 yr old ?
  • by dog Location: gone on May 30, 2012 at 12:20 PM
    • reply
      by truth on May 30, 2012 at 12:43 PM in reply to dog
      no matter what your age is!!!
    • reply
      by Anonymous on May 30, 2012 at 02:20 PM in reply to dog
      Teacher, teacher, call on dog. dog knows the answer. dog always has the answer.
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