The Michigan Court of Appeals recently vacated Robert Schwander’s second sentencing. The appeals court said that the 13th Circuit Court didn’t have a good reason when they sentenced Schwander to far more than the typical sentence for the type of offense that he committed. The appeals court threw out the original sentence, and the 13th Circuit Court ordered virtually the same sentence again, and threw some shade at the Court of Appeals in the process.
Grand Traverse County Prosecutor Robert Cooney is appealing the Court of Appeals’ choice to throw out the second resentencing. And he issued a press release to make sure that you know about it. The press release says that the Michigan Court of Appeals applied the wrong standard when they reviewed the 13th Circuit Court sentencing. Here’s the opinion, but the press release doesn’t say what standard the court relied on or what was wrong about it. The Court of Appeals more or less says that Judge Rogers’ reasons for nearly doubling the sentence that the law recommends are really weak.
I believe that the Michigan Supreme Court will uphold the removal of the sentence and that we’ll be back in the 13th Circuit Court for the third sentence. I believe the correct result is to follow the sentencing guidelines with or without a minimal upward departure. Even though the victim’s family and the community may like to see a life sentence, that’s just not what the guidelines call for when the offender is young and lacks a criminal history. If the prosecutor and the 13th Circuit Court officials don’t like it, they need to run for the legislature and advocate for a law change. For now, if they don’t apply the law as written, they’re subject to being overturned again and again until they get it right. It also sounds like the Michigan Court of Appeals is out of patience with the 13th Circuit Court on the case. If they fail one more time, there’s a good chance that the higher court will send the case to another court to take up the matter.