Court: No stay while state appeals lifer ruling

The Detroit News

The U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals has refused to grant Michigan officials’ request for a 14-day stay so they can appeal a recent decision ordering the state to reinstate good-behavior credits to inmates sentenced as juvenile lifers.

On April 9, U.S. District Judge Mark Goldsmith ruled unconstitutional a state law created following a landmark U.S. Supreme Court ruling that struck down mandatory no-parole sentences for juveniles, arguing they are less culpable and have greater capacity for rehabilitation.

Goldsmith claimed the legislation did not grant offenders credit for good behavior that could reduce a prison sentence. He gave the state 14 days to calculate good-time and disciplinary credits for each prison inmate already re-sentenced under the unconstitutional state law, which more than 360 offenders are subject to.

The state, which wants 236 of the offenders re-sentenced to life without parole, last week filed a notice of appeal and sought a motion for a stay pending appeal. Its legal team has argued inmates serving life sentences could not have a sentence reduced under state law.

In a response filed Wednesday, the Appeals Court said it would consider the state’s appeal on an expedited basis but believes the move was unlikely to succeed on the merits.

“We decline to disturb the district court’s thoughtful and well-reasoned decision,” the court wrote in a filing Wednesday.

Representatives of Gov. Rick Snyder, who is listed as a defendant in the case along with the Michigan Department of Corrections, did not immediately respond to a request for comment Wednesday night.

The MDOC is reviewing the ruling and working to comply with the order, spokesman Chris Gautz said.

They have until May 10 to file a merits brief, according to the Appeals Court filing. The plaintiffs are set to respond by May 31.