County Attorney will review cases of juveniles serving life after new Supreme Court ruling.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman said his office will promptly review the life-without-parole sentences being served by five Hennepin County juveniles in light of a U.S. Supreme Court decision Monday.


In the case of Montgomery v Louisiana, the Supreme Court elaborated on its landmark 2012 Miller v. Alabama decision that called sentences of juveniles to a mandatory life sentence without parole a violation of the Eighth Amendment against cruel and unusual punishment.


Until today, however, it was unclear whether that 2012 decision was retroactive for juveniles already serving their life sentences. In the Montgomery decision, the justices ruled 6-3 that the ruling was retroactive.


“There are eight juveniles statewide who are serving life sentences without the possibility of parole and five of them are Hennepin County cases,” Freeman said. “In light of today’s ruling, we will evaluate those cases with all due speed and determine what, if anything, we must do to be in compliance with the high court’s ruling.”


One of the five cases already was reviewed and earlier this month Hennepin County District Court Judge Peter Cahill changed Mahdi Ali’s sentence. The change made Ali eligible for parole, but only after serving 30 years in prison on each one of his murder counts. Ali was convicted of murdering three people at the Seward Market in 2010 and he received 30 year sentences on each count to be served consecutively for a total of 90 years.


In the Montgomery case, Henry Montgomery was 17 years old when he fatally shot a deputy sheriff in East Baton Rouge, Louisiana in 1963. He is now 69 years old and claimed he should have access to a parole hearing and possible release.


The Supreme Court, in its decision, stated that “a state may remedy a Miller violation by permitting juvenile homicide offenders to be considered for parole, rather than by resentencing them.”