Diatchenko v. District Attorney for Suffolk Dist., 1 N.E.3d 270 (Mass. 2013) – In 1982, juvenile defendant (age 17 at time of crime) was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to mandatory life without parole. More than thirty years later, the defendant filed a collateral appeal challenging the constitutionality of the state sentencing statute as applied to him. Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court held that a statute calling for mandatory JLWOP is unconstitutional under the Massachusetts Declaration of Rights “cruel or unusual punishments” clause. The Court held that discretionary life without parole also violates the state Declaration of Rights because “it is an unconstitutionally disproportionate punishment when viewed in the context of the unique characteristics of juvenile offenders.” The Court reasoned that it “often afford[s] criminal defendants greater protections under the Massachusetts Declaration of Rights than are available under corresponding provisions of the Federal Constitution.” The Court concluded that imposing life without parole on a juvenile offender is not disproportionate to the offense of murder, but it is disproportionate to the particular juvenile offender. Because judges cannot determine whether a juvenile is irretrievably depraved, they also cannot determine “with any reasonable degree of certainty, whether imposition of this most severe punishment is warranted.”