United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
ORDER AND OPINION DENYING PLAINTIFFS' MOTION FOR
RECONSIDERATION , DENYING PLAINTIFFS' MOTIONS FOR
RELIEF FROM JUDGMENT [60, 61, 62] AND DENYING PLAINTIFFS'
MOTION FOR AN EMERGENCY HEARING 
G. Edmunds, United States District Judge
Lamont Heard, Richard Baldwin, and Jerome Smith
("Plaintiffs") are state prisoners who were each
convicted under Michigan's first-degree murder statute,
M.C.L. §750.316, for offenses they committed when they
were eighteen and nineteen years old and each given sentences
without the opportunity of parole. (Pl. Amend. Compl., Dkt.
26, at 1; Pg ID 98.) Plaintiffs filed their Complaint seeking
injunctive relief under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against
Defendants, Rick Snyder, Heidi Washing, and Michael Eagen
("Defendants") on December 6, 2016. (Dkt. 26.)
Plaintiffs claim in part that the Michigan parole exclusion
procedure under M.C.L. § 791.234(6) which states a
prisoner sentenced under the first-degree murder statute is
not eligible for parole, is unconstitutional. Plaintiffs'
claim the law fails to take into account their background,
youthfulness at the time of the offense, and possibility
of rehabilitation, in violation of their Eighth Amendment
rights. (Pl. Amend. Compl., Dkt. 26, at 2-4; PgID 99-102.)
jointly filed a Motion to Dismiss in lieu of an Answer on May
30, 2017. (Dkt. 36.) Plaintiffs filed a Response on June 28,
2017 (Dkt. 43), and a Motion for a Preliminary Injunction on
July 5, 2016 (Dkt. 46). On July 17, 2017, Magistrate Judge
Morris provided a Report and Recommendation
("R&R") that the Defendants' Motion to
Dismiss be granted and that Plaintiffs' Motion for
Preliminary Injunction be denied. Magistrate Judge Morris
Plaintiffs contend that there is no principled reason to
distinguish seventeen year-olds from eighteen and nineteen
year-olds when scientific evidence shows individuals younger
than twenty suffer from the same brain development issues as
seventeen year-olds. However, federal case law has drawn the
line and defined a juvenile as a person under the age of
eighteen. Every court of which this judicial officer is aware
that has considered this issue has maintained that definitive
line. . . .Accordingly, I recommend that Plaintiffs'
complaint be dismissed for failure to state a claim upon
which relief can be granted.
(Report & Recommendation, Dkt. 47 at 7; PgID 257)
Court issued its opinion and order addressing Plaintiffs'
objections, accepting and adopting, with modifications, the
Magistrate Judge's R&R on September 5, 2017, and
dismissing the case. (Dkt. 55.) The Court stated
"[h]aving reviewed the pleadings, the underlying
motions, and the R&R, the Court finds that the R&R
correctly applies the law to Plaintiffs' claims. For the
reasons set forth in the R&R, Plaintiffs have not set
forth facts establishing a deprivation of constitutional
rights. . . .the cases that Plaintiffs cite do not show that
they have stated a claim upon which relief can be
granted." (Ct. Adopt R&R, Dkt. 56 at 5; PgID 329.)
before the Court is Plaintiffs' pro se motion
for reconsideration of the Court's September 5, 2017
order granting the motion to dismiss. (Dkt. 58.) Also before
the Court are three identical motions for relief from
judgment, which each of the three Plaintiffs filed
separately. (Dkt. 60; Dkt. 61; Dkt. 62.) Plaintiffs'
motion for reconsideration and Plaintiffs' motions for
relief from judgment make similar arguments. In both
instances, Plaintiffs claim previously undiscussed recent
cases have determined sentencing schemes that differentiate
between those under the age of eighteen and people like
Plaintiffs, who were eighteen and nineteen at the time they
committed their crimes, are unconstitutional. Relying on
these cases, Plaintiffs move for relief from judgment and /
or reconsideration. For the reasons that follow,
Plaintiffs' motion for reconsideration and motions for
relief from judgment are DENIED.
Motion for Reconsideration
Dist.Ct. Rules, E.D. Mich. 7.1 (h) allows a party to file a
motion for reconsideration. A motion for reconsideration
should be granted if the movant demonstrates a palpable
defect by which the court and the parties have been misled
and that a different disposition of the case must result form
a correction thereof. Ward v. Wolfenbarger, 340
F.Supp.2d 773, 774 (E.D. Mich. 2004); Hence v.
Smith, 49 F.Supp.2d 547, 550-51 (E.D. Mich. 1999). A
palpable defect is a defect that is obvious, clear,
unmistakable, manifest, or plain. See Witzke v.
Hiller, 972 F.Supp. 426, 427 (E.D. Mich. 1997). A motion
for reconsideration which merely presents "the same
issues ruled upon by the Court, either expressly or by
reasonable implication, " shall be denied.
Ward, 340 F.Supp.2d at 774.
motion for reconsideration relies exclusively on a case from
the district court of Connecticut, Cruz v. United
States, 2018 WL 1541898 (D. Conn. Mar. 29, 2018), which
extends the Supreme Court's holding in Miller v.
Alabama, 567 U.S. 460 (2012), to defendants over the age
of eighteen. Plaintiffs did not raise this Connecticut case
prior to this Court granting the Defendants' motion to
dismiss. Here, Plaintiffs offer the same arguments that they
made in their earlier objections to the R&R, adding only
this additional case, from a non-binding court, to re-assert
their earlier arguments. Plaintiffs' motion for
reconsideration presents issues which this Court already
ruled upon, either expressly or by reasonable implication.
Hence, 49 F.Supp.2d at 553; (Dkt. 56.)
Court correctly determined the Plaintiffs have not
established a deprivation of constitutional rights and the
new non-binding case out of the district court of Connecticut
does not change this determination. The federal courts, now
save one, have drawn a bright line and refused to extend to
defendants over the age of eighteen, the Supreme Court's
holding in Miller, which held that mandatory life
without parole for defendants under eighteen at the time of
their crimes violated the Eight Amendment.
Sixth Circuit in 2013 considered whether to extend
Miller to persons over the age of eighteen. In
United States v. Marshall, the Sixth Circuit stated
"[u]nder the Supreme Court's jurisprudence
concerning juveniles and the Eighth Amendment, the only type
of "age" that matters is chronological age. The
Supreme Court's decision [in Miller] limiting
the types of sentences that can be imposed upon juveniles all
presuppose that a juvenile is an individual with a
chronological age under 18." United States v.
Marshall, 736 F.3d 492, 498 (6th Cir. 2013). The Sixth
Circuit went on to state, "[t]he reasons for according
special protections to offenders under 18 cannot be used to
extend the same protections to offenders over 18."
Id. The court found that "[c]onsideration of
efficiency and certainty require a bright line separating
adults from juveniles" and that "[f]or purposes of
the Eighth Amendment, an individual's eighteenth birthday
marks that bright line." Id. at 500.
newest argument asks this Court to disregard the Sixth
Circuit's Marshall opinion and extend the
district court of Connecticut's reasoning to their case.
The Connecticut district court in question has issued two
opinions, both of which counter this bright line rule
previously recognized by the Sixth Circuit. Cruz v.
United States, 2017 WL 3638176, at *13 (D. Conn. Apr. 3,
2017); Cruz v. United States, 2018 WL 1541898 at *20
(D. Conn. Mar. 29, 2018) (stating " 'the Eighth
Amendment forbids a sentencing scheme that mandates life in
prison without possibility of parole' for offenders who
were 19 years old at the time of their crimes." (citing
Miller, 567 U.S. at 479)). The fact that a
Connecticut district court issued these opinions does not
demonstrate a palpable defect which will result in a
different disposition here in the Sixth Circuit as required
under U.S. Dist. Ct. Rules, E.D. Mich. 7.1(h). The
Connecticut court's holding is a lone outlier, and does
not change the Sixth Circuit's binding precedent on this
Court, to treat chronological age and the eighteenth birthday
as the bright line. Marshall, 736 F.3d at 498-500.
Court DENIES Plaintiffs' motion for reconsideration,
because Plaintiffs are presenting issues which have already
been correctly determined according to the legally binding
Sixth Circuit precedent. Plaintiffs' motion for
reconsideration  is DENIED. Plaintiffs' motion for an
expedited ruling  is DENIED. II. Motion for Relief from
Judgment Plaintiffs seek a relief from judgment pursuant to
Fed.R.Civ.P. 60(b)(6). This is a catch-all provision for
obtaining relief from a judgment only in exceptional or
extraordinary circumstances where principles of equity
mandate relief. Miller v. Mays, 879 F.3d 691, 698
(6th Cir. 2018) (citing West v. Carpenter, 790 F.3d
693, 696-97 (6th Cir. 2015)). Rule 60(b)(6) motions
necessitate a fact based inquiry in which the district court
intensively balances numerous factors, including the
competing policies of the finality of judgments, risk of
injustice to the parties, as well as the risk of undermining
the public's confidence in the ...