Estrada-Huerta v. People

Alejandro Estrada-Huerta received an aggregate sentence of 40 years to life for nonhomicide offenses committed as a juvenile. Juvenile Law Center along with other amici filed an amicus brief in the Colorado Supreme Court in support of Mr. Estrada-Huerta arguing that children are categorically less deserving of the harshest forms of punishment and that Estrada-Huerta’s sentence violates the Eighth Amendment because it deprives him of a “meaningful opportunity to obtain release” as required by Graham.

The Supreme Court of Colorado held that Graham does not apply to aggregate term-of-years sentences, explaining in the opinion published the same day in the lead companion case, Lucero v. People, 2017 CO 49, __ P.3d __, that “[l]ife without parole is a specific sentence, distinct from sentences to terms of years.” Although the Court has deemed the sentences distinct, for Mr. Estrada-Huerta and the other youthful offenders affected by this Court’s decision, the results are likely to be the same: a lifetime behind bars for nonhomicide offenses committed as a child.