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Michigan Supreme Court: Former State Senator’s Bar From Office Unenforceable

Jul 27, 2018

Michigan Supreme Court Building
Credit Wikipedia Media Commons / wikipedia.org

A plea deal that prevented one former lawmaker from holding office for five years is not enforceable.  That was the ruling of the Michigan Supreme Court on Thursday.


Former State Senator Virgil Smith pleaded to criminal charges stemming from an incident where he fired his rifle at his ex-wife's car and into the air while she was nearby. 

As part of a deal with prosecutors, Smith had agreed to resign as a state Senator and not to hold any elected or appointed office during his 5-year probation.  Smith later ran for Detroit City Council and lost.

In its opinion, the court said barring Smith from office goes against public policy.  It said, “We believe that public offices should not be treated like private property.”

The court said, going forward, if the prosecution wants to have a bar-to-office provision in an agreement, there has to be a connection between public office and the defendant’s actions.

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—Cheyna Roth is a reporter for the Michigan Public Radio network.  Contact WEMU News at 734.487.3363 or email us at studio@wemu.org