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Criminal Justice & Legal System

Mich. Supreme Court: Judges, not juries, decide life for juveniles

Prison fence barbed wire
Kevin Rosseel
/
morguefile
Michigan ranks fourth in the nation for prisoner rehabilitation

 The Michigan Supreme Court says judges, not juries, have the sole power to decide whether someone under 18 gets life in prison without parole.

The 4-2 opinion, released Wednesday, centers on murder cases from St. Clair County and Genesee County. Many new sentencing hearings for so-called juvenile lifers have been on hold while a decision was in the works.

The Supreme Court says there are no constitutional violations in allowing a judge to order a no-parole sentence for a teen under 18. Chief Justice Stephen Markman says a trial judge doesn't need to find any particular fact before choosing the highest punishment.

Justices Bridget McCormack and Richard Bernstein disagreed. They also said a no-parole sentence for minors should be reviewed by appellate courts under a strict standard.

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