University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
new search
page permalink
Case Name Hill v. Snyder CJ-MI-0003
Docket / Court 5:10-cv-14568-JCO-RSW ( E.D. Mich. )
State/Territory Michigan
Case Type(s) Criminal Justice (Other)
Attorney Organization ACLU Chapters (any)
ACLU of Michigan
Case Summary
This is the case challenging mandatory life sentences without parole for juveniles in Michigan.

On November 17, 2010, juvenile prisoners filed this lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan against the State of Michigan, challenging the state law ... read more >
This is the case challenging mandatory life sentences without parole for juveniles in Michigan.

On November 17, 2010, juvenile prisoners filed this lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan against the State of Michigan, challenging the state law that prohibited the Michigan Parole Board from considering for parole juveniles who were sentenced to life in prison without parole for first-degree murder. The plaintiffs, represented by counsel from the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan, asked the court for declaratory judgment and injunctive relief.

The state subsequently moved to dismiss this case. On July 15, 2011, the district court (Hon. John Corbett O'Meara) granted, in part, the state's motion to dismiss, holding that all but one of the plaintiffs were barred from action by the statute of limitations. 2011 WL 2788205. The state moved the court for certification of interlocutory appeal to dismiss that final claim while the plaintiffs moved the court to reconsider their holding regarding the statute of limitations. In January of 2012, the Court denied both motions. 2012 WL 75313.

On February 1, 2012, the plaintiffs amended their complaint to include a number of new plaintiffs whose actions were not barred by the statute of limitations. The plaintiffs then moved for summary judgment, arguing that the Supreme Court had held that mandatory life without parole sentences for juveniles violated the Eighth Amendment's prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment. On January 30, 2013, the court granted partial summary judgment for the plaintiffs, ordering that the plaintiffs should have a fair and meaningful opportunity to demonstrate that they are appropriate candidates for parole, and directing the parties to provide briefing on what would constitute a "fair and meaningful" opportunity. 2013 WL 364198. On August 12, 2013, the court defined the scope of the January 30, 2013 order as applying to all persons convicted of first-degree murder in the State of Michigan as juveniles and who were sentenced to life in prison without parole. The state appealed the January 30 order to the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, and requested that the Circuit stay the court's order pending appeal.

After two years at the appellate court, on June 20, 2016, Judge Jane Stranch issued an opinion for the Sixth Circuit. 821 F.3d 763. The decision vacated the orders from January and August of 2013 by the district court. It remanded the case back to the district level because there were several new legal developments to consider. First, in 2012, the Supreme Court decided Miller v. Alabama, 132 S.Ct. 2455 (2016), which prohibited sentences of life without parole for juveniles except in very rare and extreme circumstances. Then, in 2016, the Court decided Montgomery v. Louisiana, 136 S.Ct. 718 (2016), which held that the decision in Miller would apply retroactively to juveniles sentenced to life without parole. Finally, Michigan passed new statutes, Mich. Comp. Laws § 769.25-25a, that were passed specifically to address the Miller decision.

The plaintiffs filed their second amended complaint in response to Michigan's new statutes, alleging the revised parole system was unfair and inequitable. The case was remanded to the district court where Judge O'Meara granted the plaintiff's motion for a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) on July 7, 2016 to stop the re-sentencing of juvenile offenders that would occur under Michigan's new laws. The state appealed this decision, and a second appellate decision was issued on July 20, 2016. 2016 WL 4046827. There, the Sixth Circuit (Stranch, Merritt, Bouie Donald, JJ.) reversed the district court's order for a TRO because the Sixth Circuit concluded that the district court was effectively issuing an injunction contrary to the original June 2016 Sixth Circuit opinion.

On August 3, 2016, Judge O'Meara denied the plaintiff's motion for preliminary injunction. 2016 WL 4119805. The plaintiffs were seeking to stop prosecutors from re-sentencing juveniles under Michigan's new laws, but Judge O'Meara noted that Miller did not entirely prohibit sentences for life without parole, so states had discretion to determine which rare offenders would be continued to sentencing to life without parole. On November 17, 2016, Judge O'Meara heard oral arguments on the defendants' motion to dismiss.

On February 7, 2017, Judge O'Meara granted the defendant's motion to dismiss on the grounds that the court no longer has jurisdiction over the matter at hand. 2017 WL 492076. Based upon the change in the legal landscape the plaintiffs were to receive individualized sentencing hearings taking the new statute and the plaintiff's age at the time of the alleged crime into account. The court held that this should redound to the plaintiff's benefit and that any claims regarding the constitutionality of the new statute must be brought up at the forthcoming sentencing hearings or under the writ of habeas corpus.

On March 9, 2017 the plaintiffs appealed this decision to the Sixth Circuit. On December 20, 2017, that court issued its opinion, affirming the district court's dismissal of counts I and II as moot and reversing counts IV, V, and VI. While claims concerning the state's statutes issuing life without parole were barred from constitutional challenge under Heck doctrine, Heck did not bar review of the state's policies and procedures regarding parole eligibility. Younger abstention was not warranted. The amended complaint's ex post facto claims good time credit revocation were sufficiently stated and ripe for review. These claims were remanded to the district court for review. 878 F.3d 193 (6th Cir. 2017).

The plaintiffs moved for partial summary judgment on count V for injunctive relief and again for class certification once the case was remanded. The case was reassigned to Judge Mark A. Goldsmith in Detroit. The court held hearings on March 22 and the defendants had moved to stay the results of those proceedings in the event an injunction were granted. On March 30, in anticipation of an unfavorable summary judgement ruling as to count V, the state moved to request a 14-day stay of any forthcoming order from the court to allow time to file an appeal.

On April 9, 2018 Judge Goldmith granted the plaintiff’s motions for class certification in full and partial summary judgement as to count V, and denied the state’s request for a 14-day stay. He found that Pullman abstention was not warranted in this case as Mich. Comp. Laws § 769.25a(6) was “unmistakably clear” and solidly supported the plaintiffs position that it retroactively deprived them of good time and disciplinary credits previously earned. He also said that Pullman abstention would carry too great a risk of constitutional guarantees going unenforced, noting the state’s pattern in this case of failing to carry out court orders to anyone other than the named plaintiffs. Judge Goldmith found that Younger absention would be inappropriate because the plaintiffs were not seeking to interfere with any ongoing state judicial proceedings; he pointed out that it is the Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC), not Michigan state courts, that is responsible for calculating good time an disciplinary credits. Judge Goldsmith then held that Mich. Comp. Laws § 769.25a(6) was an unconstitutional ex post facto law because it retroactively removed the plaintiffs’ credits, and ordered the state to apply good time and disciplinary credits in calculating parole eligibility dates for juvenile lifers resentenced to a term of year, denying the state’s request for a 14-day stay. He denied without prejudice both parties’ cross-motions for summary judgment as to count VI alleging that the denial of rehabilitative programming denied the plaintiffs a fair and meaningful opportunity for release, pointing out that no discovery had taken place on this issue. The state appealed the April 9 decision to the Sixth Circuit and moved for an emergency stay of the district court’s order to deny the 14-day stay. 2018 WL 1782710, --- F.Supp.3d ----.

On April 18, 2018, the Sixth Circuit (Judge Stranch) denied the state’s request for a stay of the district court order but said that the Court of Appeals would consider the appeal on an expedited basis.

On June 7, 2018, the plantiffs agreed to withdraw their claim for money damages in exchange for the state withdrawing its defense that the plaintiffs failed to exhaust their administrative remedies.

As of July 20, 2018, the case is still ongoing.

Maurice Youkanna - 06/10/2014
Salvatore Mancina - 11/09/2016
Nichollas Dawson - 11/06/2017
Alexander Walling - 07/20/2018


compress summary

- click to show/hide ALL -
Issues and Causes of Action
click to show/hide detail
Issues
Constitutional Clause
Cruel and Unusual Punishment
Due Process
Ex Post Facto
Content of Injunction
Preliminary relief denied
Preliminary relief granted
Defendant-type
Corrections
Jurisdiction-wide
Law-enforcement
General
Good time
Habeas Corpus
International law
Juveniles
Over/Unlawful Detention
Parole grant/revocation
Rehabilitation
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Special Case Type
Habeas
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Declaratory Judgment Act, 28 U.S.C. § 2201
Defendant(s) State of Michigan
Plaintiff Description Juvenile plaintiffs in prison for life without parole
Indexed Lawyer Organizations ACLU Chapters (any)
ACLU of Michigan
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status granted Yes
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Declaratory Judgment
Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Litigation
Order Duration 2018 - n/a
Filing Year 2010
Case Ongoing Yes
Docket(s)
5:10−cv−14568 (E.D. Mich.)
CJ-MI-0003-9001.pdf | Detail
Date: 08/01/2018
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Complaint for Declaratory and Injunctive Relief [ECF# 1]
CJ-MI-0003-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 11/17/2010
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Supplemental Authority [ECF# 29]
CJ-MI-0003-0002.pdf | Detail
Date: 07/12/2011
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Opinion and Order Granting in Part and Denying in Part Defendant’s Motion to Dismiss [ECF# 31] (2011 WL 2788205) (E.D. Mich.)
CJ-MI-0003-0005.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 07/15/2011
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order Denying Plaintiffs’ Motion for Reconsideration [ECF# 41] (2012 WL 75313) (E.D. Mich.)
CJ-MI-0003-0006.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 01/10/2012
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order Denying the Defendants' Motion for Certification of Interlocutory Appeal [ECF# 42] (E.D. Mich.)
CJ-MI-0003-0003.pdf | Detail
Date: 01/12/2012
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
First Amended Complaint for Declaratory and Injunctive Relief [ECF# 44]
CJ-MI-0003-0004.pdf | Detail
Date: 02/01/2012
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Stipulation and Order Applying This Court's Prior Order of July 15, 2011, to the February 1, 2012 Amended Complaint [ECF# 46] (E.D. Mich.)
CJ-MI-0003-0007.pdf | Detail
Date: 02/21/2012
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Opinion and Order Granting in Part and Denying in Part Plaintiffs' Motion for Summary Judgment and Denying Defendants' Cross-Motion for Summary Judgment [ECF# 62] (2013 WL 364198) (E.D. Mich.)
CJ-MI-0003-0008.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 01/30/2013
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order Denying Motions to Intervene [ECF# 93] (E.D. Mich.)
CJ-MI-0003-0009.pdf | Detail
Date: 08/12/2013
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order Granting Plaintiffs' Motion for Ruling on Scope of Summary Judgment and Order Denying Plaintiffs' Motion for Class Certification as Moot [ECF# 94] (E.D. Mich.)
CJ-MI-0003-0010.pdf | Detail
Date: 08/12/2013
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order Denying Motion to Intervene [ECF# 106] (E.D. Mich.)
CJ-MI-0003-0011.pdf | Detail
Date: 11/26/2013
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order Requiring Immediate Compliance with Miller [ECF# 107] (E.D. Mich.)
CJ-MI-0003-0012.pdf | Detail
Date: 11/26/2013
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order [USCA Grants Defendant's Motion to Stay Pending Appeal and Denies Plaintiff's Motion to Dismiss the Appeal] [Ct. of App. ECF# 119]
CJ-MI-0003-0013.pdf | Detail
Date: 12/23/2013
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Opinion for US Court of Appeals -- Sixth Circuit [Ct. of App. ECF# 127] (821 F.3d 763)
CJ-MI-0003-0014.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 05/11/2016
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Second Amended Complaint by Plaintiffs [ECF# 130]
CJ-MI-0003-0015.pdf | Detail
Date: 06/20/2016
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Temporary Restraining Order [ECF# 137] (E.D. Mich.)
CJ-MI-0003-0016.pdf | Detail
Date: 07/07/2016
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Appellate Opinion After Remand -- Sixth Circuit [Ct. of App. ECF# 157] (2016 WL 4046827 / 2016 U.S.App.LEXIS 14015)
CJ-MI-0003-0017.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 07/20/2016
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order Denying Preliminary Injunction [ECF# 158] (2016 WL 4119805 / 2016 U.S.Dist.LEXIS 101626) (E.D. Mich.)
CJ-MI-0003-0018.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 08/03/2016
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Opinion and Order Granting Defendants' Motion to Dismiss [ECF# 174] (2017 WL 492076) (E.D. Mich.)
CJ-MI-0003-0019.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 02/07/2017
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Opinion [USCA 6th Circuit] [Ct. of App. ECF# 179] (878 F.3d 193)
CJ-MI-0003-0021.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 12/20/2017
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Stipulation Regarding Dismissal of Plaintiffs' Claims for Money Damages and Defendants' Withdrawal of Their Motion to Amend Their Answer to Plaintiffs Second Amended Complaint [ECF# 230] (308 F.Supp.3d 893) (E.D. Mich.)
CJ-MI-0003-0022.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 06/06/2018
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judges Cook, Deborah L. (Sixth Circuit)
CJ-MI-0003-0013
Donald, Bernice Bouie (W.D. Tenn., Sixth Circuit)
CJ-MI-0003-0017 | CJ-MI-0003-0021
Goldsmith, Mark Allan (E.D. Mich.)
CJ-MI-0003-0022 | CJ-MI-0003-9001
Griffin, Richard Allen (Sixth Circuit)
CJ-MI-0003-0013
Merritt, Gilbert Stroud Jr. (Sixth Circuit)
CJ-MI-0003-0017 | CJ-MI-0003-0021
O'Meara, John Corbett (E.D. Mich.)
CJ-MI-0003-0003 | CJ-MI-0003-0005 | CJ-MI-0003-0006 | CJ-MI-0003-0007 | CJ-MI-0003-0008 | CJ-MI-0003-0009 | CJ-MI-0003-0010 | CJ-MI-0003-0011 | CJ-MI-0003-0012 | CJ-MI-0003-0016 | CJ-MI-0003-0018 | CJ-MI-0003-0019
Rogers, John M. (Sixth Circuit)
CJ-MI-0003-0013
Stranch, Jane Branstetter (Sixth Circuit)
CJ-MI-0003-0014 | CJ-MI-0003-0017 | CJ-MI-0003-0021
Whalen, R. Steven (E.D. Mich.) [Magistrate]
CJ-MI-0003-9001
Plaintiff's Lawyers Buskey, Brandon (New York)
CJ-MI-0003-0014 | CJ-MI-0003-0015
Dahlberg, Robin L. (New York)
CJ-MI-0003-0001
Edwards, Ezekiel (New York)
CJ-MI-0003-0004 | CJ-MI-0003-0014 | CJ-MI-0003-0015 | CJ-MI-0003-9001
Gupta, Vanita (New York)
CJ-MI-0003-0001
Korobkin, Daniel S. (Michigan)
CJ-MI-0003-0001 | CJ-MI-0003-0004 | CJ-MI-0003-0014 | CJ-MI-0003-0015 | CJ-MI-0003-9001
Labelle, Deborah A. (Michigan)
CJ-MI-0003-0001 | CJ-MI-0003-0004 | CJ-MI-0003-0014 | CJ-MI-0003-0015 | CJ-MI-0003-9001
Moss, Kary L. (Michigan)
CJ-MI-0003-0001 | CJ-MI-0003-0004
Parker, Dennis D. (New York)
CJ-MI-0003-0001
Reosti, Ronald J. (Michigan)
CJ-MI-0003-0001 | CJ-MI-0003-0004 | CJ-MI-0003-9001
Rorty, Jay (New York)
CJ-MI-0003-0001
Steinberg, Michael J. (Michigan)
CJ-MI-0003-0001 | CJ-MI-0003-0004 | CJ-MI-0003-0014 | CJ-MI-0003-0015 | CJ-MI-0003-9001
Watt, Steven M. (New York)
CJ-MI-0003-0001 | CJ-MI-0003-0004 | CJ-MI-0003-0014 | CJ-MI-0003-0015 | CJ-MI-0003-9001
Defendant's Lawyers Dalzell, Kathryn M (Michigan)
CJ-MI-0003-9001
Froehlich, Joseph T. (Michigan)
CJ-MI-0003-0002 | CJ-MI-0003-0014 | CJ-MI-0003-9001
Govorchin, A. Peter (Michigan)
CJ-MI-0003-9001
Nelson, Margaret A. (Michigan)
CJ-MI-0003-0014 | CJ-MI-0003-9001
Restuccia, B. Eric (Michigan)
CJ-MI-0003-0014 | CJ-MI-0003-9001
Sherman, Ann (Michigan)
CJ-MI-0003-9001
Thurber, John L. (Michigan)
CJ-MI-0003-9001

- click to show/hide ALL -

new search
page permalink

- top of page -