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How Metadata from Facebook, Cell Phone Photos, and Cell Towers led to the Exoneration of Derrick Bunkley

Derrick Bunkley was represented on appeal by SADO Assistant Defender Doug Baker. In this article, Doug takes the reader through the arrest, the trial, and the appellate investigation that eventually led to a stipulation by the prosecution to vacate Derrick’s convictions and to dismiss the charges. There are a lot of good lessons here, for both trial and appellate counsel, when confronted with a case where technological data could prove a client’s true whereabouts. Read More


The Status of Juvenile Life Without Parole Sentences following Montgomery v Louisiana

On January 25, 2016, the United States Supreme Court in Montgomery v Louisiana, __ US __; (Docket No. 14-280, issued 1/25/16), ruled the decision in Miller v Alabama, 567 US __; 132 S Ct 2455 (2012) fully retroactive1 to all juvenile mandatory life without parole homicide sentences. In Miller, the Court held the imposition of a mandatory life without parole sentence for a juvenile under the age of 18 on the date of the offense violates the Eight Amendment prohibition on “cruel and unusual punishment.” While the Michigan Supreme Court previously ruled the Miller opinion was not retroactive to Michigan cases which were no longer pending on direct appeal [People v Carp, 298 Mich 472 (2012)], that decision has now been overruled by the Montgomery opinion. Read More


Appellate Investigation Project: Making Investigations More Accessible for MAACS Appeals

Currently taking requests from MAACS attorneys

Access to investigative services and expert witnesses can have profound effects on individuals seeking to appeal from their felony convictions.  Yet, access to investigative services is a challenge faced by many indigent appellate defendants and their attorneys. Nearly 75% of all indigent appellate defendants in Michigan are assigned counsel through the Michigan Appellate Assigned Counsel System (MAACS).   In order to hire investigators or experts, MAACS roster attorneys must first request funding approval from judges at the trial court level.  These requests present their own challenges and are far from certain to be granted.  MAACS roster attorneys are, thus, often faced with the unenviable task of conducting investigations on their own while facing mounting caseloads and limited resources. Read More


One Stop Shop For Everything Lockridge

FAQs for Practitioners, Informational Guide for Prisoners, Training Videos, and Sample Pleadings

In People v Lockridge, 498 Mich 358 (2015), the Michigan Supreme Court concluded that the Michigan sentencing guidelines create a mandatory minimum sentence range that violates the rule of Apprendi v New Jersey, 530 US 466 (2000), and Alleyne v United States, 133 S Ct 2151 (2013), and thus violates the Sixth and Fourteenth Amendments, because the sentencing scheme uses judicial fact-finding in the scoring of the offense variables. SADO has put together important resources for practitioners and defendants to help advocate in the post-Lockridge era. Read more


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This project was funded by the Byrne JAG grant #2010-DJ-BX-0003, awarded by the Bureau of Justice Assistance, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), and administered by the Michigan state Police (MSP). Points of view or opinions contained within this document do not necessarily represent the official position or policies of the MSP or DOJ.