Roman Nose v. State, Minn.S.Ct., 4/161/2014. Tony Roman Nose is serving a sentence of life without possibility of release for a murder conviction that occurred when he was a juvenile. The post conviction court resentenced Mr. Roman Nose to life with the possibility of parole, concluding that the U.S. Supreme Court’s Opinion in Miller v. Alabama, 132 S.Ct. 2455 (2012) applied retroactively even though Nose’s conviction had long been final before Miller came out. Miller held, in a mischievous, if not pernicious opinion, that a mandatory life without parole sentence for juvenile murderers was cruel and unusual punishment under the Eighth Amendment.
The post conviction court did this before before he Minnesota Supreme Court held that Miller was not retroactive. Chambers v. State, 831 N.W.2d 311 (2013). Chief Justice Gildea, writing for six members of the court – only Justice Page dissented for the same reasons that he and retired Justice Paul Anderson had dissented in Chambers – was totally unwilling to reverse Chambers, an opinion less than a year old. The court also said that it was unwilling to grant relief under its supervisory powers. (This sent Justice Stras into an apoplectic fit since he believes that there is no such thing as “supervisory powers.” )
Justice G. Barry Anderson concurred but wished that the U.S. Supreme Court would decide once and for all whether Miller is retroactive. He points out the obvious for the juveniles in this limbo that the opportunity for them that opportunity is being determined not by “traditional sentencing considerations” but “only by the date of the offense or by the state of residence.” This last bit is a recognition that other jurisdictions – Iowa, Massachusetts, Mississippi – have held that Miller is retroactive.
It bears repeating what Justice Paul Anderson said in his dissent in Chambers:
I cannot understand, much less appreciate, why the majority is so drawn to the continued imposition of a cruel and unusual punishment. The majority consciously avoids the clear and principled lines of legal analysis available to it to remand this case to the postconviction court. The postconviction court should be allowed to fix the constitutionally defective portion of Chamber’s sentence—its mandatory nature—and to resentence Chambers in accordance with his constitutional rights as articulated by the Supreme Court in Miller.