McCall Hamilton Advocacy and Public Affairs

Updates About Supreme Court Rulings

Michigan Supreme Court Rules on Juvenile Life Sentences

Update: Jul 25-Aug 5, 2022

On July 28, in a 4 to 3 decision, the Michigan Supreme Court ruled in People v. Parks that 18-year-old defendants convicted of first-degree murder to a life sentence without the possibility of parole is unconstitutional. The same 4 to 3 majority also ruled in People v. Stovall that it is unconstitutional for juveniles, those 17 and under, to be sentenced to life with the possibility of parole for second-degree murder.

The decision in Parks, written by Justice Elizabeth Welch and joined by Chief Justice Bridget McCormack, and Justices Bernstein and Cavanagh found that the sentence imposed did not take into account characteristics of youth, including adolescent brain development.

In Stovall, Justice McCormack wrote that a life sentence with the possibility of parole for a juvenile committing second-degree murder is often more severe than the minimum sentence for a juvenile committing first-degree murder.

The same four justices also ruled in People v. Taylor, which found rebuttable presumption against sentencing a juvenile to life in prison without the possibility of parole. This presumption will be the prosecutor’s burden to overcome by presenting clear and convincing evidence in a hearing

Justice Viviano dissented, writing that the majority “used this brutal kidnapping and murder case as an opportunity to drastically limit the discretion sentencing courts have traditionally held to impose a sentence on a defendant convicted of one of our state’s most serious crimes.”

Flint Water Crisis Prosecutions to Continue

Update: Jun 27-Jul 8, 2022

On June 28, the Michigan Supreme Court ruled 6-0 that the Attorney General’s use of a one-person grand jury system could not issue indictments, and anyone charged under the system has the right to a preliminary examination. This was seen as a win for the Flint Water Crisis defendants; however, the ruling did not throw out the suit entirely.

Solicitor General Fadwa Hammoud and Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy filed two sets of motions with the Genesee County Circuit Court. The first motions ask for the cases to be remanded to the District Court for preliminary exams in compliance with the Michigan Supreme Court. The second motions inform the court that the cases will proceed upon formal complaint.

All criminal charges that were announced last year can be found here.

Michigan Legislature Files Request to Overturn Temporary Injunction Against 1931 Abortion Law

Update: Jun 27-Jul 8, 2022

On Wednesday, July 6, Michigan’s Republican-led Legislature appealed a Michigan Court of Claims temporary injunction, which stopped enforcement of a 1931 law that outlaws abortion under nearly any circumstance.

Following the overturning of Roe vs. Wade, the state courts’ jurisdiction over the constitutional right to an abortion has come into focus for both sides of the debate. The Court of Claims injunction, which came at the request of Planned Parenthood, cited a “substantial likelihood” that the 1931 law violates the due process clause of the Michigan constitution. It was praised by abortion rights groups and elected officials, including Governor Gretchen Whitmer.

The Legislature references the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision Dobbs vs. Jackson Women’s Health to support its argument, and in doing so underscores the importance of the democratic process to find common ground on a polarizing issue.

This case is distinct from another suit filed by Right to Life Michigan and Michigan Catholic Conference. It is also distinct from an executive message filed by Governor Gretchen Whitmer requesting the Michigan Supreme Court immediately resolve the question of whether Michigan’s Constitution protects a woman’s right to an abortion. It is probable that the constitutionality of abortion rights will ultimately make its way to the Michigan Supreme Court.