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Arkansas high court recalls ruling vacating life sentence for minor as state seeks guidance


LITTLE ROCK, Arkansas — The Arkansas Supreme Court has recalled a ruling voiding a life sentence for a man convicted as a minor while state attorneys seek guidance from the country's highest court.

The state Supreme Court agreed to recall the ruling Thursday, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette ( reports. It had earlier voided the life sentence of Ulonzo Gordon, who was convicted for a killing that happened when he was a teenager.

The state attorney general's office asked for the ruling to be recalled while it seeks clarification from the U.S. Supreme Court. The office is asking whether the state should retroactively apply the U.S. Supreme Court's assertion that mandatory life sentences without parole for minors are unconstitutional.

The Arkansas court had ruled without dissent that it could retroactively apply rulings that said such sentences are "cruel and unusual punishment."

The U.S. Supreme Court does not have to consider the request. Jeff Rosenzweig, a lawyer for Gordon, said he doesn't think they'll pick it up.

"All this is going to do is delay things," Rosenzweig said. Gordon wouldn't be resentenced, Rosenzweig said, until the U.S. Supreme Court decides on the request.

Rosenzweig said he represents other Arkansas inmates given mandatory life sentences without parole when they were minors. He said they've submitted civil court motions accusing the state of wrongful imprisonment.

Gregg Parrish, head of the Arkansas Public Defender Commission, said he anticipates his office would work with inmates if they're resentenced. But he said he believes the Thursday court decision would delay the inmate's cases.

Information from: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette,

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