October 14, 2015

Willkie litigation partner Richard Bernstein was asked by the Court to argue on Supreme Court jurisdiction in Montgomery v. Louisiana

On October 13, Willkie litigation partner Richard Bernstein argued as an amicus curiae before the U.S. Supreme Court in Montgomery v. Louisiana. In a rare appointment earlier this year, he was asked by the Court to argue against the Court’s jurisdiction in the case.

One issue in Montgomery is whether the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2012 ruling in Miller v. Alabama applies to this case retroactively. The Court’s decision in Miller prohibited mandatory life-without-parole sentences for juveniles convicted of homicide. The defendant in Montgomery raised the issue of retroactivity in a state court collateral review proceeding, not a federal habeas proceeding. Mr. Bernstein was asked to address whether the Supreme Court has appellate jurisdiction over a state court collateral proceeding addressing retroactivity.

Mr. Bernstein, a former law clerk for U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, is the first lawyer appointed by the U.S. Supreme Court since 1996 to argue solely against jurisdiction over a state court. His argument was noted by numerous press outlets covering the case, including SCOTUSblog, which said Mr. Bernstein “was very good,” The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, NPR, Bloomberg and BuzzFeed