Oh my! I read today in the Detroit Free Press about the efforts of a 16-year-old young woman, Matilyn Sarosi of Ann Arbor, who--with the help and guidance of others--has just submitted an amicus curiae brief to the Michigan Supreme Court arguing that prison inmates with life sentences for crimes committed as juveniles deserve a chance at parole. Sarosi's mentors support her convictions that emanate from her strong belief in social justice and the power of redemption. Thus they facilitated her submission of a brief opposing an April 2013 Michigan Court of Appeal ruling that a U.S. Supreme Court decision of November 2012 ending mandatory life-without-parole sentences for juveniles should not be applied retroactively.
Retroactive application has been opposed by Michigan's state Attorney General Bill Schuette. Shuette's position is that that the Supreme Court ruling should only apply to future offenders, not to current inmates ("juvenile lifers"). He says that they should not be eligible for new sentences because re-sentencing such inmates would inflict unnecessary pain on the victim families.
Let me say here that I am "wowed" by Sarosi and also by those who helped her along the way. Sarosi's supporters include Jon Muth, attorney in Grand Rapids, who provided her with the legal support and status to get her brief to the Court. Muth calls her efforts "remarkable." Sarosi's supporters also include her parents, a lawyer aunt, the school’s administration and chaplain and the students of Father Gabriel Richard Catholic High School in Ann Arbor. When Sarosi's brief was submitted last Friday, the signatures of 452 students—85% of the student body—were attached. How marvelous is that?
The issue on appeal to Michigan's Supreme Court: A Michigan appeals court ruled in April 2013 in a published decision that the U.S. Supreme Court decision in November 2012 ending mandatory life-without-parole sentences for juveniles should not apply retroactively. Download People v Eliason COA April 2013
Download People v Eliason COA Concurrence, Partial Dissent April 2013 [Gleicher, P.J., Concurring in part, dissenting in part.]
A motion for reconsideration was denied, except that Gleicher, P.J. would remand to a different judge.
The inmates whose mandatory life sentences are being appealed: Sarosi wrote the brief in support of appeals filed by lawyers for inmates Dakota Eliason, Raymond Carp and Cortez Davis, Eliason was convicted at 14 of his grandfather’s murder. Carp and Davis were convicted for participating in murders when they were 16.
The relief sought: The lawyers for these inmates request that they be granted a chance at parole, in accordance with the U.S. Supreme Court decision.
Sarosi's efforts to obtain relief for the juveniles: In the last few weeks, with the support of her parents, a lawyer aunt, the school’s administration and chaplain, Sarosi addressed a dozen theology classes to explain the issue to the student body. She sent letters home to parents.
An Application for Leave to file an Amicus Brief was filed. It may be read here: Download FGR Application for Leave to File Amicus Brief
Sarosi's Amicus Brief was filed: It may be read here: Download FGR AMICI BRIEF
Source: Montemurri, Patricia. "Ann Arbor teen's legal brief: Juvenile lifers deserve a 2nd chance." Detroit Free Press, Online edition, sec. Michigan News, February 17, 2014. http://tinyurl.com/lvka899 (accessed February 17, 2014). The Detroit Free Press article may be read here: Ann Arbor teen's legal brief: Juvenile lifers deserve a 2nd chance [Last Accessed February 17, 2014]
The United States Supreme Court Decision: The Court held that juveniles should not be subject to mandatory/minimum sentences with no parole in life sentence cases. See, e.g., Miller v Alabama. Download Miller v Alabama, __ U.S. ___ (2012) Note: This is but one of three cases decided on this issue by the Supreme Court of the United States. Sarosi's brief cites all of them.