Washington, D.C. (July 10, 2019) – Sterne, Kessler, Goldstein & Fox is proud to announce a favorable en banc decision from the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in United States of America v. Riley Briones, Jr., AKA Unknown Spitz. Sterne Kessler’s pro bono team drafted an amicus brief in support of rehearing en banc in a cruel and unusual punishment case involving a defendant who was sentenced to life-without-parole for a crime he committed as a juvenile. This week, the Court vacated and remanded the defendant’s sentence of life without parole.

The defendant, Riley Briones, Jr., filed a motion pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255 seeking to have his sentence vacated after the United States Supreme Court held in Miller v. Alabama that mandatory life-without-parole sentences for juvenile offenders violate the eight amendment. On resentencing, the district court re-imposed the life sentence, and a panel of the Ninth Circuit affirmed that decision on appeal. Briones then petitioned for rehearing en banc.

The Sterne Kessler pro bono team, including Associate William H. Milliken and Director Michael Joffre, Ph.D., staked out important positions in an amicus brief, with Milliken as lead author, which created space for the Ninth Circuit to adopt the petitioner’s more incremental argument.

Sterne Kessler is dedicated to providing pro bono legal support to deserving organizations and underserved communities—both locally and internationally. A list of representative matters, as well as further information on the firm’s award-winning pro bono practice is available here.