Worthy files appeal to void Virgil Smith’s plea deal

The former state Sentator said the appeal does not impact his decision to run for Detroit City Council.

Stephanie Steinberg
The Detroit News

Detroit — Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy has filed an appeal with the Michigan Court of Appeals to void a plea deal with former State Sen. Virgil Smith, who’s running for a seat on Detroit City Council.

Smith, a 37-year-old Democrat, resigned from the state Senate last year and served a 10-month jail sentence after pleading guilty to malicious destruction. In May 2015, he was arrested for firing an assault rifle at his ex-wife’s Mercedes-Benz.

In April, three judges on the appeals court rejected a bid by Worthy to void a plea deal that required Smith to resign from the state Senate and not hold public office during his five-year probationary period. The trial court judge dismissed those provisions, saying they were an unconstitutional restriction on the people’s right to choose their elected officials.

The appeal filed Friday calls for the appellate court “to remedy for the lower court’s error.”

The Court of Appeals dismissed the prosecutor’s original appeal because Smith resigned from the state Senate while the appeal was pending, and the court believed Smith did not intend to run for office while on probation.

“The Court of Appeals erred in dismissing the People’s appeal as moot when the plea agreement provisions could be reinstated,” the appeal says.

Reached Friday afternoon, Smith said the appeal does not affect his decision to run for office and he will continue campaigning.

“I’m putting all this behind me,” Smith said. “I’ve learned some hard lessons from all this, and I’ve moved forward.”

If voters question his past legal issues, Smith said he will “tell them the truth.”

“I don’t hide from it,” he added.

In a statement to The Detroit News, Assistant Wayne County Prosecutor Maria Miller wrote that in the event Smith advances in the primary election on Aug. 8, the office “would move the court for immediate consideration and try to expedite review of the application and ask for a decision prior to the date the ballots (for the November election) are printed.”

Smith’s campaign platform includes lowering auto and homeowners insurance costs for Detroit residents as well as developing mixed-use buildings on the state fairgrounds in his district.

“I have a good track record of delivering, and I know how government operates,” he told the Detroit News earlier this week. “No matter what the issue is, if someone comes to me and asks for help, I am going to help them.”

In District 2, Smith is running against a field of five other candidates, including City Council President Pro-Tem George Cushingberry, a 64-year-old former state representative and Wayne County commissioner.

Cushingberry has had his law license suspended twice since joining the council. He lost it for taking a client’s money and not providing services and also for failing to appear at a public hearing concerning professional misconduct claims.


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Twitter: @Steph_Steinberg