Gavel Grab

Michigan Supreme Court Throws Out Mandatory Minimums

Michigan_quarter,_reverse_side,_2004The Michigan Supreme Court restructured criminal sentencing this week in a landmark 5-2 ruling, Michigan Live reports.

The opinion, written by Justice Bridget Mary McCormack, says that “mandatory minimum sentencing violates the Sixth Amendment” when it increases sentencing beyond that contained in a jury verdict. The article explains that the case upheld a lower court sentence, but ruled that a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision “rendered parts of Michigan’s sentencing guidelines unconstitutional” because they infringe on the right to a trial by jury.

Justice Stephen J. Markman dissented, arguing that the U.S. Supreme Court cases evaluated by the majority were “actually meant to limit judicial power,” not “enhance” it, the article summarizes. Moreover, he argues the ruling “results in a substantial diminishing of the authority of juries,” because juries will “no longer determine the earliest parole date applicable to the conviction offense.” The majority, however, asserts that jury authority is strengthened, because their sentencing can no longer be overturned by a judge who has access to facts not presented in front of the jury.

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