A federal judge today allowed an American Civil Liberties Union lawsuit challenging Michigan’s juvenile life without parole sentences to proceed. Today’s ruling allows the ACLU and the ACLU of Michigan to prove that Michigan’s sentencing scheme, which denies children a meaningful opportunity for parole, constitutes cruel and unusual punishment and violates their constitutional rights.

In his 13-page decision, U.S. District Court Judge John Corbett O’Meara allowed one of the plaintiffs, Keith Maxey, to continue with the case. Citing the three-year statute of limitations, he ruled that the other 12 clients waited too long to challenge their sentences. Maxey was 16 in 2007 when he was sentenced to life without the possibility of parole for his part in a robbery. Michigan law requires that children as young as 14 who are charged with certain felonies be tried as adults and, if convicted of a homicide offense, sentenced without judicial discretion to life without parole.

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