Appeals court allows Virgil Smith to run for Detroit City Council

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Former Sen. Virgil Smith is free to run for Detroit City Council, according to a verdict of an appeals court Tuesday.

An appeal court has ruled 2-1 to allow Smith to run for council, despite his plea deal earlier this year. As part of a plea deal, Smith had agreed not to run for office for five years.

In the Aug. 8 primary, Smith qualified for the general election by placing second to Roy McAlister, Jr. for Detroit's District 2 seat.

In the ruling written by judges Deborah A. Servitto and Michael J. Kelly, that his politically elected office was not a bargaining chip he had to negotiate with in the first place, and unconstitutional.

At issue was a Wayne County judge's ruling last year that the prosecutor's office could not force Smith to resign from the Senate as part of a plea deal.

"Allowing the prosecution  to engage in this type of negotiation (using prosecution and possible imprisonment in exchange for a resignation or promise not to seek elected office) and then calling the agreement 'voluntary' falls well within the problem of coercion ..."

Smith had been charged with multiple felonies for shooting up his ex-wife's car in 2015.

Instead of going to prison, Smith pleaded guilty to malicious destruction of property. The deal called for him to resign, spend 10 months in jail, and agree not to run for office for five years.

At the time, Judge Lawrence Talon ruled that Worthy overstepped her bounds, but Smith resigned anyway.

The prosecutor asked the Michigan Court of Appeals to reinstate the deal, but they declined and ruled, in part, that Smith didn't plan to run for office again.

Shortly after Smith got out of jail, smith declared that he was running for city council.