Michigan high court says wrongly convicted Detroit man should get more money

A man wrongly convicted of murder who received $1 million after serving roughly 25 years in prison is entitled to more money, the Michigan Supreme Court said Thursday.

Desmond Ricks has been fighting for an additional $216,000. But the state as well as lower courts said he couldn’t collect for the first 41/2 years because that period was tied to a parole violation for a previous crime.

Ricks said it was extremely unfair. He argued that his murder conviction, which was ultimately erased, had triggered the parole violation.

The Supreme Court, in a 4-3 opinion, agreed that he’s eligible for additional compensation.

"The government’s errors caused all of Ricks’ imprisonment," Chief Justice Bridget McCormack wrote for the majority.

The law’s "text, context, and purpose agree: the Legislature intended to provide compensation for time served under a parole-revoked sentence when the revocation was caused solely by a wrongful conviction," McCormack said.

Michigan law grants $50,000 for each year served in prison because of a wrongful conviction.

"I’m very happy, very ecstatic. It’s been a long time coming. You can’t stop God’s work," Ricks, 55, told The Associated Press.

Ricks was released from prison in 2017. The Innocence Clinic at University of Michigan law school found that bullets removed from a homicide victim in 1992 could not have come from a gun that was seized by Detroit police.

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In a dissent, Justice Brian Zahra said he doesn’t interpret the compensation law in the same way as the majority.

The Legislature "did not intend to provide compensation for every wrong that resulted from the wrongful imprisonment," said Zahra, who was joined by justices Elizabeth Clement and David Viviano.