United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
OPINION AND ORDER DENYING THE PETITION FOR WRIT OF
HABEAS CORPUS AND DECLINING TO ISSUE A CERTIFICATE OF
CARAM STEEH UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Wershe. Jr., (“Petitioner”), currently on parole
supervision wth the Michigan Department Of Corrections, filed
a petition for writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
§ 2254, in which he challenges his life sentence for
possession with intent to deliver more than 650 grams of
cocaine and the Michigan Parole Board's refusals to
release him parole. For the reasons that follow, the petition
for writ of habeas corpus is DENIED WITH PREJUDICE.
was charged with the above offense in 1987. At the time of
the offense, petitioner was 17 years old. Petitioner was
convicted following a jury trial in the Wayne County Circuit
Court. Petitioner was sentenced to life in prison without
1992, subsequent to petitioner's conviction, the Michigan
Supreme Court decided the case of People v. Bullock,
440 Mich. 15, 485 N.W.2d 866 (1992), in which that court held
that a mandatory sentence of life imprisonment without parole
violated the Michigan Constitution's ban on “cruel
or unusual punishments.” Id. at 37-41. To
remedy the constitutional infirmity of the statute, the
Supreme Court ordered that all persons convicted under the
statute be granted “the parole consideration otherwise
available upon completion of ten calender years of the
sentence.” Id. at 42.
sentence was amended to a parolable life sentence.
Comp. Laws § 791.234(6), as amended by P.A.1998, No.
314, effective October 1, 1998, indicates that a defendant
convicted of violating or conspiring to violate section
7401(2)(a)(i) of the public health code, the section under
which the petitioner was convicted, shall be eligible for
parole after serving seventeen and one half (17-½)
years in prison. Under Mich. Comp. Laws § 791.234(9), a
defendant's sentence under section 7401(2)(a)(i) may be
further reduced another two and one half (2 ½) years
if the sentencing judge or his or her successor determines
that the defendant cooperated with law enforcement. If the
defendant had no relevant or useful information, the judge is
required to conclude that the defendant cooperated with the
2000, petitioner's sentencing judge concluded that
petitioner had cooperated with the police and was entitled to
the 2-½ year reduction in his sentence.
was denied consideration for parole in 2003, 2008, and 2012.
2015, petitioner filed a motion for relief from judgment with
the trial court, challenging his sentence. The Wayne County
Circuit Court granted petitioner's motion, ruling that
petitioner's parolable life sentence was unduly severe,
in light of the fact that petitioner was only seventeen years
old at the time of the offense. The judge ordered that
petitioner be re-sentenced at which time petitioner's
youth at the time of the offense would be considered by the
judge in determining whether to amend petitioner's
sentence to a term of years. People v. Wershe, No.
87-004902-FC (Wayne Cty. Cir. Ct., Sep. 4, 2015).
Michigan Court of Appeals reversed the trial court's
decision to grant post-conviction relief, on the ground that
petitioner's post-conviction motion was a second motion
for post-conviction relief that was barred under M.C.R.
6.502(G) and that petitioner's claim did not involve a
retroactive change in law that would permit petitioner to
file a successive post-conviction motion. People v.
Wershe, No. 329110 (Mich.Ct.App. Sep. 29, 2015). The
Michigan Court of Appeals further held that petitioner was
not entitled to relief because the Supreme Court cases that
he relied on in support of his claim were inapplicable to
petitioner's parolable life sentence. Id.
Michigan Supreme Court denied petitioner leave to appeal.
People v. Wershe, 879 N.W.2d 873 (Mich. 2016).
Petitioner filed his habeas petition with this Court. While
his petition was pending, the Michigan Parole Board on July
14, 2017 voted to grant petitioner parole. Petitioner was
paroled to the State of Florida on August 22,
seeks relief on the following grounds:
I. Petitioner is entitled to resentencing where he was
originally sentenced to life without parole for a nonviolent
crime committed as a juvenile with no consideration of the
Graham or Miller factors and no
consideration of sentencing guidelines.
II. The Court of Appeals order reversing the trial court
constitutes a denial of Petitioner's right to equal
protection under the 14th Amendment.
III. Parole eligibility under Michigan law does not provide a
meaningful and realistic ...