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Judges Must Consider Capacity for Reform When Sentencing Juveniles

So says a panel of appellate court judges, who said a district court’s failure to do so in the case of a teen murderer flew afoul of the state’s sentencing guidelines. While Melvin Paige later recanted his confession in the 1999 killing of an elderly neighbor during a Palatine home invasion, the court that sentenced him three years later imposed the de facto life sentence without what Paige claimed was due consideration of his rehabilitative potential. Paige was 16 at the time of the brutal attack and assessed by pretrial evaluators as having a low IQ and mood disorders they attributed to drugs.

Paige saw appeals fail in the intervening years over his confession, made two weeks after the brutal attack that Paige said was prompted by what he deemed an untoward look made in passing in the complex where both he and the victim resided. A 2016 motion to challenge the sentence based on federal case law, and on which his latest appeal rested, also was denied. In granting Paige the motion and remanding the case for resentencing, judges in the 1st District Appellate Court said that Cook County Associate Judge Marc W. Martin failed to follow juvenile sentencing rules. They demand that judges make explicit their decision in light of the  juvenile defendant’s age and cite the personal characteristics that might limit their potential for rehabilitation.

The Chicagoland Law Firm handles juvenile cases in DuPage and Cook counties, as well as in courts around the state, as part of its Criminal Defense practice. Our Juvenile Crime lawyers are skilled at building defenses and winning favorable outcomes for young offenders. Contact us today to speak with a Juvenile Defense attorney today. We offer this consultation free-of-charge and in strictest confidence. We are your best defense.

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