In the News

N.J. Supreme Court Issues 'Significant' Ruling on Sentencing Youths

The Star-Ledger

January 12, 2017

Peter Verniero, a Member of Sills Cummis & Gross who is a former state Supreme Court justice and state attorney general, was interviewed about this week's unanimous ruling by the New Jersey Supreme Court. "In what legal experts are calling an important decision, the state Supreme Court ruled unanimously Wednesday to overhaul the way New Jersey judges sentence juveniles convicted in violent crimes that could keep them in prison until they are elderly or dead. The state's highest court ruled 7-0 that judges must consider a number of factors -- including age, family environment, and peer pressure -- before issuing lengthy sentences to youths in serious cases. Peter Verniero, a former state Supreme Court justice and state attorney general, said this is 'one of the most significant sentencing decisions' the court has made in 'many years,'" as seen in this article.

The article continues, "Verniero said the ruling is significant for a few reasons. 'In addition to the substance of it, the decision is notable because it was written by the chief justice, which usually signals that the underlying issue is of particular importance, and it was unanimous.' Plus, he added, 'it is not every day that the court asks the Legislature to consider adopting a new statute. In essence, the court is affording the Legislature the opportunity to act rather than have the court impose a system-wide mandate,' Verniero said. 'The court is deferring at this juncture to lawmakers, while retaining the authority to act itself in some future case if the constitution so requires.'"