DETROIT (AP) – A special panel at the Michigan appeals court says judges – not juries – must decide whether someone under 18 gets life in prison without parole.
It’s a major decision that settles conflicting opinions by other panels at the appeals court. An appeal to the Michigan Supreme Court is likely.
Lawyers representing teens convicted of murder had argued that juries needed to make a specific determination that someone had no hope of being rehabilitated and deserved a no-parole sentence.
They pointed to a line of U.S. Supreme Court cases, especially a 2012 decision that said teens must be treated differently than adults.
But in an opinion released Friday, the Michigan appeals court says the duty rests with trial judges.