DETROIT (AP) — People who are compensated by the state for being wrongly convicted aren’t entitled to collect money for time spent in custody before trial, the Michigan Supreme Court said Thursday.
Since the compensation program began in 2017, lower courts have rejected requests for money for pretrial detention, saying the law doesn’t mention it. The Supreme Court agreed in a 4-3 opinion.
“It makes sense that the Legislature would decline to compensate plaintiff for pre-conviction detention that was purely the result of local decision-making,” Justice Brian Zahra wrote. “The Legislature could have written the (law) as a wrongful-prosecution act or a wrongful-arrest-compensation act, but it did not do so.”
The case centered on Davontae Sanford, whose murder convictions in Wayne County were thrown out because of police misconduct. He was paid $408,000 for his time in prison — $50,000 for each year — but he was also seeking $27,000 for 198 days spent in a detention center for teens.
Chief Justice Bridget McCormack, who represented the wrongly convicted before joining the court in 2013, wrote a dissenting opinion.
“Mr. Sanford was ‘imprisoned’ every day that he was confined in a juvenile detention facility for a crime that he did not commit and is therefore due compensation for the time he was detained before and after his conviction,” McCormack said.
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