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Case Name Allen v. Heyns CJ-MI-0005
Docket / Court 12-907-CZ ( State Court )
Additional Docket(s) 13-000154-MZ-C30  [ 13-154 ]  Trial Court (MI)
State/Territory Michigan
Case Type(s) Criminal Justice (Other)
Attorney Organization Michigan Clinical Law Program
Case Summary
On August 16, 2012, plaintiffs filed a class action complaint in Ingham County (30th) Circuit Court of Michigan against the Director of the Michigan Department of Corrections, Chair of the Michigan Parole Board, and the Governor of Michigan. The plaintiffs were prisoners in the custody of the ... read more >
On August 16, 2012, plaintiffs filed a class action complaint in Ingham County (30th) Circuit Court of Michigan against the Director of the Michigan Department of Corrections, Chair of the Michigan Parole Board, and the Governor of Michigan. The plaintiffs were prisoners in the custody of the Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC) who were serving a parolable life sentence and a consecutive term-of-years sentence. They proposed a class of all parolable lifers in MDOC's custody who are serving consecutive term-of-years sentences.

The plaintiffs alleged that the defendants, for years and without notice to anyone, had treated parolable lifers with consecutive sentences as if they were serving mandatory life. Previously, pursuant to MCL 791.234(3), a person serving a parolable life sentence who was convicted of another crime that carried a consecutive term-of-years sentence would be parole eligible after the parole eligibility date on the parolable life sentence plus the minimum term on the consecutive term-of-years sentence. For example, a person serving parolable life sentence for armed robbery and then got a consecutive 1-3 year sentence for possession of contraband in prison, that person would be eligible for parole at either 11 or 16 years (prisoners are eligible for parole after serving either 10 or 15 years of their parolable life sentence, depending on whether they committed their crime before or after a 1992 amendment to the lifer law + 1 year minimum term for the possession of contraband). Under the defendant's new interpretation of the statute, the same person would never be eligible for parole (defendants' rationale is that because a parolable life sentence has no legal "minimum term," the minimum is effectively "infinity" and therefore infinity + 1 = infinity).

The plaintiffs claimed that this new interpretation violated their due process rights under the Michigan Constitution and the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, separation of powers under the Michigan Constitution, the ex post facto clause of the Michigan and U.S. Constitutions, and the Eight Amendment for juvenile lifers. They requested declaratory relief stating that the defendants' interpretation of the parole statutes violated the plaintiffs' rights, injunctive relief barring the defendants from using their new interpretation of the statute, and reasonable attorneys' fees and costs.

On October 30, 2012, the defendants filed a summary disposition motion. On February 1, 2013, Judge Joyce Draganchuk denied their motion. On July 22, 2013, the plaintiffs, after the parties had completed discovery, filed a motion for summary disposition and renewed their motion for class certification. The defendants filed a cross-motion for summary disposition. After a hearing on August 28, 2013, Judge Draganchuk granted the plaintiffs' motion for summary disposition and denied the defendant's cross-motion on September 15, 2013. Judge Draganchuck found that the defendants' interpretation of MCL 791.234(3) was mistaken and that the legislature intended that parolable lifers with consecutive sentences remain eligible for parole the same as term-of-years prisoners. Although she found the plaintiffs' constitutional claims persuasive, she chose not to reach those claims. She also granted the plaintiffs' renewed motion for class certification, defining the class as all parolable lifers in MDOC's custody "who are also serving a consecutive sentence that the defendants claim forever deprives the parole board of jurisdiction to parole the prisoners."

On September 11, 2013, the Ingham County Circuit Court granted summary disposition to the plaintiffs, denied summary disposition to the state defendants, and certified a plaintiff class. The court held that members of the plaintiff class remained parole eligible even if they had a parolable life sentence followed by a consecutive sentence. Furthermore, the court found that the class members attained parole eligibility after having served the 10-20-year parole-eligibility period on their life sentence, plus the combined minimum (or parole-eligibility period) on any consecutive sentence.

On November 19, 2013, the case was transferred to the Court of Claims. On March 10, 2014, the Court of Claims entered an amended remedial order granting declaratory and injunctive relief. The remedial order required the board to review and interview those class members who have been parole eligible for the longest time and then go forward in descending order. Furthermore, if the board recommended a public hearing for any class member, the board's notice to the successor judge is required to include a copy of the remedial order, so that the judge would know that the candidate had been illegally classified as "commutable only" and thus was deprived of lawful parole review from the date of the consecutive sentence.

The state defendants agreed not to appeal, so the order granting summary disposition and the amended remedial order are final orders resolving this case. The case closed in April 2016 after the defendants submitted three status reports regarding compliance with the remedial order.

Lisa Limb - 04/10/2019


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Cruel and Unusual Punishment
Due Process
Ex Post Facto
Content of Injunction
Auditing
Monitoring
Preliminary relief granted
Recordkeeping
Reporting
Required disclosure
Defendant-type
Corrections
Jurisdiction-wide
Law-enforcement
General
Parole grant/revocation
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
State law
Defendant(s) Michigan Department of Corrrections
Plaintiff Description Parole-eligible prisoners serving life sentences in the Michigan Department of Corrections system.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations Michigan Clinical Law Program
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status granted Yes
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Litigation
Order Duration 2014 - 2016
Filing Year 2012
Case Closing Year 2016
Case Ongoing No
Docket(s)
No docket sheet currently in the collection
General Documents
Settlement Agreement
CJ-MI-0005-0016.pdf | Detail
Date: 02/22/2012
Class Action Complaint
CJ-MI-0005-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 08/15/2012
Defendants Daniel Heyns, Thomas Combs, and Richard Snyder's Summary Disposition Motion
CJ-MI-0005-0002.pdf | Detail
Date: 10/30/2012
PLAINTIFFS’ BRIEF IN OPPOSITION TO DEFENDANTS’ MOTION FOR SUMMARY DISPOSITION
CJ-MI-0005-0003.pdf | Detail
Date: 01/04/2013
Order
CJ-MI-0005-0004.pdf | Detail
Date: 02/01/2013
PLAINTIFFS’ MOTION AND BRIEF FOR SUMMARY DISPOSITION AFTER DISCOVERY
CJ-MI-0005-0005.pdf | Detail
Date: 07/22/2013
PLAINTIFFS’ RENEWED MOTION AND BRIEF FOR CLASS CERTIFICATION
CJ-MI-0005-0008.pdf | Detail
Date: 07/22/2013
PLAINTIFFS’ RESPONSE BRIEF ON CROSS-MOTIONS FOR SUMMARY DISPOSITION AFTER DISCOVERY
CJ-MI-0005-0006.pdf | Detail
Date: 08/07/2013
ORDER GRANTING PLAINTIFFS’ MOTION FOR SUMMARY DISPOSITION and DENYING DEFENDANTS’ MOTION FOR SUMMARY DISPOSITION
CJ-MI-0005-0007.pdf | Detail
Date: 09/15/2013
NOTICE OF CLASS ACTION
CJ-MI-0005-0009.pdf | Detail
Date: 09/15/2013
ORDER GRANTING PLAINTIFFS’ RENEWED MOTION FOR CLASS CERTIFICATION
CJ-MI-0005-0010.pdf | Detail
Date: 09/15/2013
ORDER GRANTING PLAINTIFFS’ MOTION FOR SUMMARY DISPOSITION and DENYING DEFENDANTS’ MOTION FOR SUMMARY DISPOSITION
CJ-MI-0005-0017.pdf | Detail
Date: 09/15/2013
REMEDIAL ORDER GRANTING DECLARATORY AND INJUNCTIVE RELIEF
CJ-MI-0005-0011.pdf | Detail
Date: 10/15/2013
Defendant's Motion to Stay Implementation of Remediation
CJ-MI-0005-0012.pdf | Detail
Date: 10/23/2013
PLAINTIFFS’ RESPONSE TO DEFENDANTS’ MOTION FOR STAY
CJ-MI-0005-0013.pdf | Detail
Date: 10/25/2013
Order Defying Defendant's Motion for Stay
CJ-MI-0005-0014.pdf | Detail
Date: 11/01/2013
Amended Remedial Order Granting Declaratory and Injunctive Relief
CJ-MI-0005-0015.pdf | Detail
Date: 02/24/2014
show all people docs
Judges Servitto, Deborah A. Court not on record show/hide docs
CJ-MI-0005-0015
Plaintiff's Lawyers Reingold, Paul (Michigan) show/hide docs
CJ-MI-0005-0001 | CJ-MI-0005-0003 | CJ-MI-0005-0005 | CJ-MI-0005-0006 | CJ-MI-0005-0008 | CJ-MI-0005-0013 | CJ-MI-0005-0014 | CJ-MI-0005-0015 | CJ-MI-0005-0016
Defendant's Lawyers Govorchin, A. Peter (Michigan) show/hide docs
CJ-MI-0005-0002 | CJ-MI-0005-0012 | CJ-MI-0005-0014 | CJ-MI-0005-0015 | CJ-MI-0005-0016

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