Some Michigan sentencing rules struck down as illegal

LANSING, MI (AP) – The Michigan Supreme Court says the state’s sentencing guidelines are unconstitutional if they increase mandatory minimum prison terms based on factors not found by a jury.

In a 5-2 opinion Wednesday, the state’s top court says it must apply some key U.S. Supreme Court decisions to Michigan’s sentencing rules. The ruling means many convicts could be returning to local courts for another hearing.

The opinion was written by Justice Bridget McCormack, a former University of Michigan law professor whose specialty is criminal law.

In dissent, Justice Stephen Markman says Michigan’s system was constitutional, and he fears that “sentencing uniformity” will instead be replaced by the “widely disparate judgments” of hundreds of trial judges.

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