Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals - Published Opinions

Thursday, March 07, 2013

Hoffman: Mandatory Life Sentence Not Plainly Cruel and Unusual

In U.S. v. Hoffman, No. 12-11529 (Feb. 26, 2013), the Court rejected the argument that a mandatory life sentence under 21 U.S.C. § 841(b)(1)(A)(viii) was “cruel and unusual” punishment in violation of the Eighth Amendment. Hoffman argued that his sentence violated the Eighth Amendment because he committed the two prior convictions that triggered the mandatory life sentence when the was a juvenile.

Reviewing the issue for “plain error” – Hoffman had not preserved the issue in the district court – the Court found no precedent that made the life sentence unconstitutional. The Court noted that Miller v. Alabama, 1232 S.Ct. 2455 (2012) involved a juvenile offender facing punishment for conduct committed when he was a juvenile. Here, Hoffman was an adult offender, not a juvenile.