of Claims LC No. 17-000159-MZ
Before: Jansen, P.J., and Cameron and Tukel, JJ.
Desmond Ricks (Ricks), filed a lawsuit for compensation
pursuant to the Wrongful Imprisonment Compensation Act
(WICA), MCL 691.1751 et seq., after his 1992
convictions for second-degree murder and possession of a
firearm during the commission of a felony (felony-firearm)
were vacated and the charges were dismissed. Ricks appeals an
order of the Court of Claims, which awarded him $1, 014,
657.53 under WICA, but denied him additional compensation of
$216, 438.36. Finding no error, we affirm.
FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
was originally incarcerated on February 19, 1987, following
his conviction of armed robbery and assault with intent to
rob while armed. Ricks was sentenced to 4 to 10 years'
imprisonment for each conviction. On May 30, 1991, Ricks was
paroled. On September 23, 1992, while on parole, Ricks was
convicted by a jury of second-degree murder and
felony-firearm. On October 12, 1992, Ricks was sentenced to
30 to 60 years' imprisonment for the second-degree murder
conviction and two years' imprisonment for the
felony-firearm conviction. On October 13, 1992, Ricks' parole
for his 1987 convictions of armed robbery and assault with
intent to rob was revoked. The Michigan Department of
Corrections (MDOC) Basic Information Sheet regarding Ricks
provided, in relevant part, that "the parole order under
which [Ricks was] released" was "rescinded"
"[b]y reason of [Ricks] incurring another sentence while
on parole[.]" The Basic Information Sheet specifically
referenced the second-degree murder and felony-firearm
convictions. Ricks was imprisoned as a result of the parole
violation concerning the 1987 convictions from October 13,
1992 to February 8, 1997. Ricks began serving the sentences
on the second-degree murder and felony-firearm convictions on
February 9, 1997.
early 2017, new evidence came to light that supported that
Ricks did not commit the crimes of second-degree murder and
felony-firearm. Based on the new evidence, the prosecution
agreed that a new trial was necessary. An order of nolle
prosequi was later entered because the prosecution
determined that there was insufficient evidence to proceed to
trial. Ricks was released from MDOC custody on May 26, 2017.
6, 2017, Ricks filed a WICA complaint, claiming he was
entitled to $1, 231, 918.00, plus interests, costs, and
attorney fees for the time he spent in prison from October
13, 1992 through May 26, 2017. The State of Michigan agreed
that Ricks was entitled to compensation in the amount of $1,
014, 657.53 for the period between February 9, 1997 and May
26, 2017. However, the State of Michigan argued that Ricks
was not entitled to compensation for the period between
October 13, 1992 and February 8, 1997 because he was
imprisoned for parole violations during that time, not the
Court of Claims held a hearing to determine the correct
amount of compensation. Ricks argued that the only reason he
was incarcerated between October 13, 1992 and February 8,
1997 was because he was found to have violated a condition of
his parole in relation to the 1987 convictions after he was
convicted of second-degree murder and felony-firearm in 1992.
Ricks argued that but for the 1992 wrongful convictions, the
MDOC would not have revoked his parole and he would not have
been reincarcerated. In relevant part, the State of Michigan
claimed that Ricks was entitled to compensation under WICA
"only for the time that he was exclusively serving for
the vacated murder conviction," which was the period
between February 9, 1997 and May 26, 2017.
Court of Claims agreed with the State of Michigan, stating:
I will compensate for the length of time that has been agreed
to that the gentleman served on the substantive offense
before us[, ] and I will not compensate for the amount of
time that he served on a violation of parole; that he had to
serve first before he began to serve on the case before us
nor will I compensate for any time spent in the county jail
the Court of Claims entered a stipulated order of judgment,
awarding Ricks the undisputed amount of compensation, plus
costs and attorney fees. The stipulated order of judgment
reflected that Ricks was not waiving the right to appeal the
denial of the additional $216, 438.36 by stipulating to the
entry of the order of judgment and accepting payment of the
amount ordered by the Court. This appeal followed.
argues on appeal that the Court of Claims erred by
determining that he was not entitled to compensation for the
time he was incarcerated from October 13, 1992 through
February 8, 1997 as a result of the MDOC's decision to
revoke his parole in relation to the 1987 convictions. We
Court reviews de novo issues of statutory interpretation.
Ameritech Mich. v Mich. PSC, 239 Mich.App. 686, 690;
609 N.W.2d 854 (2000). When interpreting a statute, the
"goal is to ascertain and give effect to the intent of
the Legislature." Portelli v IR Constr Prods Co,
Inc, 218 Mich.App. 591, 606; 554 N.W.2d 591 (1996).
Where the language of the statute is unambiguous, the statute
must be applied as written. Velez v Tuma, 492 Mich.
1, 16-17; 821 N.W.2d 432 (2012). However, appellate
courts have no authority to reevaluate legislative policy
choices or to reconfigure a statute on the basis of a public
policy concern that is not embodied in the text of a statute.
Lash v Traverse City, 479 Mich. 180, 197; 735 N.W.2d
628 (2007). "Only when an ambiguity exists in the
language of the statute is it proper for a court to go beyond
the statutory text to ascertain legislative intent."
Whitman v City of Burton, 493 Mich. 303, 312; 831
N.W.2d 223 (2013).
courts have long recognized that "[t]he State, as
sovereign, is immune from suit save as it consents to be
sued, and any relinquishment of sovereign immunity must be
strictly interpreted." Manion v State Hwy
Comm'r, 303 Mich. 1, 19; 5 N.W.2d 527 (1942).
"[T]he state can only waive its immunity and,
consequently, consent to be sued through an act of the
Legislature or through the constitution." Co Rd
Ass'n of Mich. v Governor, 287 Mich.App. 95, 119;
782 N.W.2d 784 (2010).
relevant here, WICA allows "[a]n individual convicted
under the law of this state and subsequently imprisoned in a
state correctional facility for 1 or more crimes that he or
she did not commit" to seek compensation from the State
of Michigan. MCL 691.1753. MCL 691.1755 provides, in relevant
part, the following:
(1) In an action under this act, the plaintiff is entitled to
judgment in the plaintiff's favor if the plaintiff proves
all of the ...