State v. Ali, Minn.S.Ct., 5/17/2017. Mr. Ali shot and killed three men during a robbery of a local market when he was sixteen years old. A jury convicted him of these murders and he now is serving three consecutive life sentences, so he must serve ninety years in prison before he is even eligible for parole release. Now, he could live that long, but it's statistically not likely. He argues here that the three consecutive life sentences, even with the possibility of release, are the "functional equivalent" of life imprisonment without possibility of release. The sentences thus violate the Miller/Montgomery Eighth Amendment prohibition of sentencing juveniles to life without possibility of release except "for all but the rarest of juvenile offenders, those whose crimes reflect permanent incorrigibility."
Justice Hudson, writing for all but Justice Chutich who dissented, took the easy way out and punted:
Because Miller and Montgomery involved the imposition of a single sentence of life imprisonment without the possibility of parole and the United States Supreme Court has not squarely addressed the issue of whether consecutive sentences should be viewed separately when conducting a proportionality analysis under the Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution, we decline to extend the Miller/Montgomery rule to include Mahdi and other similarly situated juvenile offenders.
Back in the nineteenth century, 1892 to be exact, SCOTUS threw out a bit of dictum that essentially said that Eighth Amendment analysis focuses on the sentence imposed for each specific crime, and not on the cumulative sentence. , O'Neil v. Vermont, 144 U.S. 323 (1892). This was good enough reason to ignore this century's "juveniles are different" Eighth Amendment jurisprudence, something this court is already pretty good at doing. See Jackson v. State for the sordid history.