Legal expert says Dunnings sentencing is “reasonable”

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LANSING, MI (WLNS) – “I am not sending you to prison but you’re going to be punished,” Judge Joseph Farah said to former Ingham County Prosecutor Stuart Dunnings III Tuesday, right before he handed down his sentence.

Dunnings will call the Clinton County Jail home for the next 365 days, followed by two more years of probation, for his misconduct in office and using the services of a prostitute.

Some say, the sentence is more than fair but other, including Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette say, while he’s pleased Dunnings will be spending time behind bars, he hoped it would have been for longer.

“This is a person charged with upholding the public trust, enforcing the law and broke the law and that’s outrageous,” Schuette said. “He deserves time behind bars. I would have liked it to be longer than one year but it is what it is.”

In Michigan, we have what’s called sentencing guidelines. It’s essentially a score sheet that measures things like a defendant’s criminal history.

A set of guidelines that was considered in Dunnings sentencing..

“All the negative stuff gets scored up, the higher the score, the higher the sentence,” Ron Bretz said. He’s a former criminal defense attorney and retired criminal law professor at Cooley Law School.

“Mr. Dunnings acted alone; nobody was permanently injured from this, nobody died” Bretz said.

All things considered, Bretz said this sentence was reasonable.

“The sentencing guidelines tells us that the average offender, for this offense, with Mr. Dunnings background, gets anywhere between zero and six months.”

Some say Dunnings fall from grace is punishment enough.

“I’m sure his license will be lost, his dream of continuing as Ingham County Prosecutor will be lost, his reputation in this fine community,” Judge Farah said.

Farah, ruling in favor of balance.

“Balance between the outage of a community and the suffering of particular women, the suffering of the defendant,” Farah said. “The harm that he has caused himself, the good he has done in the community.”

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