People v. Wiley

Decision Date04 May 2018
Docket NumberNo. 336898, No. 338870,336898
Parties PEOPLE of the State of Michigan, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. Christopher WILEY, Defendant-Appellant. People of the State of Michigan, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. William Lawrence Rucker, Defendant-Appellant.
CourtCourt of Appeal of Michigan — District of US

Bill Schuette, Attorney General, Aaron D. Lindstrom, Solicitor General, Kym L. Worthy, Prosecuting Attorney, Jason W. Williams, Chief of Research, Training, and Appeals, and Jon P. Wojtala, Assistant Prosecuting Attorney, for the people.

State Appellate Defender (by Peter Jon Van Hoek ) and Deborah LaBelle for Christopher Wiley.

Robert Tomak and Deborah LaBelle for William L. Rucker.

Amicus Curiae: Bill Schuette, Attorney General, Aaron D. Lindstrom, Solicitor General, Laura Moody, Chief Legal Counsel, and B. Eric Restuccia, Deputy Solicitor General, for the Attorney General.

Before: Boonstra, P.J., and Beckering and Ronayne Krause, JJ.

Beckering, J.

These appeals arise in the aftermath of the United States Supreme Court's proclamation that mandatory life-without-parole sentencing schemes are unconstitutional with respect to juvenile offenders and the Michigan Legislature's enactment of MCL 769.25a in an attempt to retroactively rectify the problem. In Docket No. 336898, defendant Christopher Wiley appeals by right the trial court's order resentencing him under MCL 769.25a to 25 to 60 years' imprisonment for his 1995 conviction of first-degree murder, MCL 750.316. In Docket No. 338870, defendant William Lawrence Rucker appeals by right the trial court's order resentencing him under MCL 769.25a to 30 to 60 years' imprisonment for his 1993 conviction of first-degree murder, MCL 750.316.1 Both defendants allege on appeal that MCL 769.25a(6) unconstitutionally deprives them of having earned disciplinary credits applied to their term-of-years sentences. These appeals were consolidated by order of this Court.2

We affirm the sentences defendants received at the time of their resentencings, but we agree with their contention that MCL 769.25a(6) is unconstitutional. Put simply, we agree with the analysis of our federal colleague Judge Mark A. Goldsmith in Hill v. Snyder , 308 F.Supp.3d 893 (E.D. Mich., 2018), in which he concluded that MCL 769.25a(6) runs afoul of the Ex Post Facto Clause of the United States and Michigan Constitutions.

I. RELEVANT LEGAL HISTORY

As alluded to above, these appeals arise following the United States Supreme Court's decisions in Miller v. Alabama , 567 U.S. 460, 132 S.Ct. 2455, 183 L.Ed.2d 407 (2012), and Montgomery v. Louisiana , 577 U.S. ––––, 136 S.Ct. 718, 193 L.Ed.2d 599 (2016), and our Legislature's concomitant enactment of MCL 769.25a.

The Miller Court held, in relevant part:

[A] judge or jury must have the opportunity to consider mitigating circumstances before imposing the harshest possible penalty for juveniles. By requiring that all children convicted of homicide receive lifetime incarceration without possibility of parole, regardless of their age and age-related characteristics and the nature of their crimes, the mandatory-sentencing schemes before us violate this principle of proportionality, and so the Eighth Amendment's ban on cruel and unusual punishment. [ Miller , 567 U.S. at 489, 132 S.Ct. 2455.]

Subsequently, the Supreme Court recognized that the ruling in Miller had resulted in some confusion and disagreement among various state courts about whether Miller applied retroactively. Montgomery , 577 U.S. at ––––, 136 S.Ct. at 725. In determining that Miller was to be afforded retroactive application, the Court subsequently explained:

Miller's conclusion that the sentence of life without parole is disproportionate for the vast majority of juvenile offenders raises a grave risk that many are being held in violation of the Constitution.
Giving Miller retroactive effect, moreover, does not require States to relitigate sentences, let alone convictions, in every case where a juvenile offender received mandatory life without parole. A State may remedy a Miller violation by permitting juvenile homicide offenders to be considered for parole, rather than by resentencing them. Allowing those offenders to be considered for parole ensures that juveniles whose crimes reflected only transient immaturity—and who have since matured—will not be forced to serve a disproportionate sentence in violation of the Eighth Amendment.
Extending parole eligibility to juvenile offenders does not impose an onerous burden on the States, nor does it disturb the finality of state convictions. Those prisoners who have shown an inability to reform will continue to serve life sentences. The opportunity for release will be afforded to those who demonstrate the truth of Miller's central intuition—that children who commit even heinous crimes are capable of change. [ Id. at ––––, 136 S.Ct. at 736 (citations omitted).]

After Miller but before Montgomery , our Legislature enacted MCL 769.25, which set forth the procedure for resentencing criminal defendants who fit Miller 's criteria, provided either that their case was still pending in the trial court or that the applicable time periods for appellate review had not elapsed. In other words, MCL 769.25 applied only to cases that were not yet final; MCL 769.25 did not retroactively apply Miller to cases that were final. See 2014 PA 22, effective March 4, 2014.

However, in anticipation of the possibility that Miller might be determined to apply retroactively, our Legislature simultaneously enacted MCL 769.25a, which set forth the procedure for resentencing defendants who fit Miller 's criteria even if their cases were final. See 2014 PA 22, effective March 4, 2014. In other words, if Miller were determined to apply retroactively, MCL 769.25a would apply it retroactively to cases that were final. MCL 769.25a states:

(1) Except as otherwise provided in subsections (2) and (3), the procedures set forth in section 25 of this chapter do not apply to any case that is final for purposes of appeal on or before June 24, 2012.[3] A case is final for purposes of appeal under this section if any of the following apply:
(a) The time for filing an appeal in the state court of appeals has expired.
(b) The application for leave to appeal is filed in the state supreme court and is denied or a timely filed motion for rehearing is denied.
(c) If the state supreme court has granted leave to appeal, after the court renders its decision or after a timely filed motion for rehearing is denied.
(2) If the state supreme court or the United States supreme court finds that the decision of the United States supreme court in Miller v. Alabama , 576 [sic] U.S. 460 [132 S.Ct. 2455, 183 L.Ed.2d 407]; 183 L.Ed.2d 407; 132 S. Ct. 2455 (2012), applies retroactively to all defendants who were under the age of 18 at the time of their crimes, and that decision is final for appellate purposes, the determination of whether a sentence of imprisonment for a violation set forth in section 25(2) of this chapter shall be imprisonment for life without parole eligibility or a term of years as set forth in section 25(9) of this chapter shall be made by the sentencing judge or his or her successor as provided in this section. For purposes of this subsection, a decision of the state supreme court is final when either the United States supreme court denies a petition for certiorari challenging the decision or the time for filing that petition passes without a petition being filed.
(3) If the state supreme court or the United States supreme court finds that the decision of the United States supreme court in Miller v. Alabama , 576 [sic] U.S. 460 [132 S.Ct. 2455, 183 L.Ed.2d 407]; 183 L.Ed.2d 407; 132 S. Ct. 2455(2012), applies retroactively to all defendants who were convicted of felony murder under section 316(1)(b) of the Michigan penal code, 1931 PA 328, MCL 750.316, and who were under the age of 18 at the time of their crimes, and that the decision is final for appellate purposes, the determination of whether a sentence of imprisonment shall be imprisonment for life without parole eligibility or a term of years as set forth in section 25(9) of this chapter shall be made by the sentencing judge or his or her successor as provided in this section. For purposes of this subsection, a decision of the state supreme court is final when either the United States supreme court denies a petition for certiorari challenging the decision with regard to the retroactive application of Miller v. Alabama , 576 [sic] U.S. 460 [132 S.Ct. 2455, 183 L.Ed.2d 407], 567 U.S. 460; 183 L.Ed.2d 407; 132 S. Ct. 2455 (2012), to defendants who committed felony murder and who were under the age of 18 at the time of their crimes, or when the time for filing that petition passes without a petition being filed.
(4) The following procedures apply to cases described in subsections (2) and (3):
(a) Within 30 days after the date the supreme court's decision becomes final, the prosecuting attorney shall provide a list of names to the chief circuit judge of that county of all defendants who are subject to the jurisdiction of that court and who must be resentenced under that decision.
(b) Within 180 days after the date the supreme court's decision becomes final, the prosecuting attorney shall file motions for resentencing in all cases in which the prosecuting attorney will be requesting the court to impose a sentence of imprisonment for life without the possibility of parole. A hearing on the motion shall be conducted as provided in section 25 of this chapter.
(c) If the prosecuting attorney does not file a motion under subdivision (b), the court shall sentence the individual to a term of imprisonment for which the maximum term shall be 60 years and the minimum term shall be not less than 25 years or more than 40 years. Each victim shall be afforded the right under section 15 of the William Van Regenmorter crime victim's rights act,
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