Amicus Brief

State of Louisiana v. Bernard Noble

Excessive sentence of 13.3 years in prison for possession of small amount of marijuana should be reviewed

Brief Amicus Curiae of Micah Project, Prison Fellowship Ministries, Reason Foundation, ACLU of Louisiana, and Drug Policy Alliance

State of Louisiana v. Bernard Noble

Bernard Noble is a 45 year old man who was sentenced to 13 years and four months of hard labor in prison without the opportunity for parole for possessing the equivalent of two marijuana cigarettes. Eight of the 12 Louisiana judges who have reviewed Mr. Noble’s case have taken issue with its disposition, and several have variously expressed “shock, literal shock” about the “absolute horrific” sentence Mr. Noble received, a sentence “grossly out of proportion for the severity of the crime,” that simply “imposes needless and purposeless pain.”

This brief of Amici Curiae seeks to place Mr. Noble’s case in the broader context of sentencing policy and sentencing data. It is Amici’s belief that the need for this Court’s review of this case will become clearer and more urgent when Mr. Noble’s sentence is viewed in the context of the purposed of punishment, the dramatically lower penalties that would attach to Mr. Noble’s offense in virtually every other state in the union, and the tangible ways that Mr. Noble’s sentence will negatively affect him, his family, his community and the taxpayers of Louisiana without enhancing public safety or health.

This brief demonstrates that Mr. Noble’s prison sentence of 13.3 years is grossly disproportionate to both Mr. Noble’s instant offense and his criminal history, cannot be squared with the sentencing practices of other states, fails to advance the core purposes of punishment, does not align with Louisiana public opinion, and is an affront to common decency. The Louisiana Supreme Court should grant Mr. Noble’s petition for Certiorari.