CINCINNATI, Ohio. (WWJ) – It may be White Boy Rick’s day in court.

The U.S. Court of Appeals was scheduled to hear oral arguments Thursday in the case of Richard Wershe, sentenced as a juvenile to life behind bars on cocaine charges.

The state parole board for the first time will have to explain why Wershe has been denied parole as the longest-serving non-violent juvenile in Michigan’s history. His last parole hearing was in 2004.

Wershe’s story made headlines around the world when he infiltrated local drug gangs at the tender age of 13 — at the request of Detroit police and FBI agents — and turned in evidence that convicted 14 dealers and gangsters, including some of the biggest drug dealers in Detroit history.

His longtime attorney claims that, as a direct result of Wershe’s help, the FBI was able to infiltrate a gang of Detroit cops that was transporting drugs from the Wayne County Airport to the streets of the city’s east side.

The then-baby-faced teen was sentenced to mandatory life prison under the state’s strict cocaine dealing laws, but the state constitution was later amended to lighten up sentences for nonviolent offenders.

This latest hearing, considered Wersche’s best chance to get out of prison, was scheduled to take place in Cincinnati’s 6th Circuit Court of Appeals. Each side will be given 15 minutes to make its case.

© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Comments (5)
  1. That hearing was postponed. “His lawyers have been fighting the State of Michigan in a lawsuit in federal court, claiming Michigan has violated his civil rights by treating him differently than every other prisoner similarly charged, convicted and incarcerated. That battle has been dragging on for several years and it was due on the radar again on March 16th in Cincinnati, Ohio before the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals. But that court appearance has been postponed.

    Wershe’s lawyer, Ralph Musilli, and a lawyer from the Michigan Attorney General’s Office, representing the Michigan Parole Board, were to appear before a three-judge panel of the Court of Appeals and participate in what are known as oral arguments. It’s more about questions-and-answers than arguments. Both sides have submitted detailed written arguments about prevailing case law and if this now-postponed session goes forward the judges will ask a lot of questions.The Court of Appeals took note of the Parole Board’s movement on Wershe’s possible parole and contacted the lawyers and asked if it makes sense to “hold in abeyance” the oral arguments. All parties agreed that makes sense.”

  2. “Detroit media coverage of the story of Richard Wershe, Jr., better known to the public as White Boy Rick thanks to relentless media use of that nickname, has been deplorable, shoddy and often wrong for close to 30 years. The inexcusable erroneous reporting calling him a “drug lord” and “kingpin” is one of the reasons Wershe has been in prison since age 18. Detroit’s news media owes it to this man to finally tell his story correctly.”

  3. Free Rick Wershe!! He’s a juvenile lifer/non-violent drug offender who has been locked up for over 29 yrs. More info about Rick and his case:

  4. “Richard John Wershe Jr. is a political prisoner in America. The political component of his ordeal is local, it’s harsh and it’s vindictive.
    Wershe, who grew up in Detroit, was sentenced to life in prison without parole for a non-violent drug crime committed when he was 17. The law was eventually changed to allow parole but that hasn’t made a difference for Wershe. He is Michigan’s last remaining juvenile non-violent drug offender, still behind bars after 29 years.”

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