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, the Honorable 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
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.
As of September 30, 2016 the case is pending before the district court.Maurice Youkanna - 06/10/2014
Salvatore Mancina - 11/09/2016