State v. Tormasi

In State v. Tormasi, the New Jersey Appellate Division weighed in on the legality of sentencing a 16-year-old defendant to a term of life imprisonment with parole eligibility after 30 years. The defendant claimed he was entitled to resentencing under State v. Zuber, 227 N.J. 422 (2017), and Article I, Paragraph 12, of the New Jersey Constitution, which prohibits “cruel and unusual punishments.” In Zuber, the New Jersey Supreme Court “extended the holding of Miller v. Alabama, 567 U.S. 460 (2012),] to juveniles who receive a lengthy, aggregate sentence that amounts to life without parole.” As held by the U.S. Supreme Court, Miller established several factors that must be considered when determining if a juvenile should be sentenced to life without the possibility of parole. Zuber incorporated that analysis when evaluating a juvenile’s life sentence with the possibility of parole where the sentence functionally amounted to life without parole because of the extended parole ineligibility term. Here, the defendant was eligible for parole in his 40s, and the Appellate Division declined his invitation to extend Zuber to all “lengthy sentences.” As a result, the Appellate Division affirmed the sentence.

Tormasi