State v. Comer

The ACLU-NJ filed a motion in the trial court seeking to reduce the sentence of James Comer who, at the age of 17, was sentenced to serve 75 years in prison, with more than 68 without parole. Mr. Comer received his sentence in 2003 for his role in four robberies and a felony murder as a juvenile, with no consideration given to his youth at the time. Although he was not the one who was alleged to have pulled the trigger, Comer received a longer sentence than his two accomplices, the person who was charged with the murder and the other who was an adult at the time. Comer had no prior adjudications of delinquency and was a juvenile, but the judge found no mitigating factors. Life sentences for juveniles have not been categorically banned, but the Supreme Court of the United States was very clear that such sentences should be exceptional. The motion argued that his sentence is functionally a sentence of life without parole and is therefore cruel and unusual.

Status

The Supreme Court ordered that Mr. Comer be resentenced.  The matter is now pending in the trial court. 

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