Justia Michigan Supreme Court Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Juvenile Law
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Plaintiff Davontae Sanford filed suit against the state of Michigan, seeking compensation under the Wrongful Imprisonment Compensation Act (WICA). Another man confessed to the crimes committed in 2007 to which plaintiff had pled guilty when he was 15 years old: four counts of second-degree murder and carrying a firearm during the commission of a felony. In 2008, plaintiff was sentenced to concurrent terms of 37 to 90 years in prison for the murder convictions, plus a consecutive two-year term for the felony-firearm conviction, with credit for the 198 days he spent in the Wayne County Juvenile Detention Facility. After an investigation into the other man’s confession and with the stipulation of the prosecutor, the circuit court vacated plaintiff’s convictions and sentences on June 6, 2016, and plaintiff was released from the Michigan Department of Corrections June 8, 2016. Defendant admitted that plaintiff was entitled to $408,356.16 in compensation for the 8 years and 61 days he spent in a state correctional facility pursuant to the WICA’s damages formula set forth in MCL 691.1755(2)(a), but defendant disputed whether plaintiff was entitled to $27,124.02 in compensation for the 198 days he spent in local detention. The Court of Claims held that the time plaintiff spent in local detention was not compensable under the WICA, and it awarded plaintiff $408,356.16. Plaintiff appealed as of right, and the Court of Appeals affirmed. The Michigan Supreme Court concurred with the appellate court that the WICA did not authorize compensation for the time plaintiff spent in detention before he was wrongfully convicted of a crime, and affirmed that court's judgment. View "Sanford. v. Michigan" on Justia Law

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A jury convicted Tia Marie-Mitchell Skinner, and Kenya Hyatt were convicted by jury: Skinner, for first-degree premeditated murder, conspiracy to commit murder and attempted murder for acts committed when she was seventeen years old; Hyatt for first-degree felony murder, armed robbery, conspiracy to commit armed robbery, and possessing a firearm during the commission of a felony for acts committed when he was seventeen years old. At issue before the Michigan Supreme Court was whether MCL 769.25 violated the Sixth Amendment because it allowed the decision whether to impose a sentence of life without parole to be made by a judge, rather than by a jury beyond a reasonable doubt. The Supreme Court held that MCL 769.25 did not violate the Sixth Amendment because neither the statute nor the Eighth Amendment required a judge to find any particular fact before imposing life without parole; instead, life without parole was authorized by the jury’s verdict alone. Therefore, the Court reversed the judgment of the Court of Appeals in Skinner and affirmed the part of Hyatt that held that “[a] judge, not a jury, must determine whether to impose a life-without-parole sentence or a term-of-years sentence under MCL 769.25.” However, the Court reversed the part of Hyatt that adopted a heightened standard of review for life-without-parole sentences imposed under MCL 769.25 and that remanded this case to the trial court for it to “decide whether defendant Hyatt is the truly rare juvenile mentioned in [Miller v Alabama, 567 US 460; 132 S Ct 2455; 183 L Ed 2d 407 (2012)] who is incorrigible and incapable of reform.” No such explicit finding is required. Finally, the Supreme Court remanded both of these cases to the Court of Appeals for it to review defendants’ sentences under the traditional abuse-of-discretion standard of review. View "Michigan v. Skinner" on Justia Law