Daily Briefs

Court ends conflict over sentencing of­­ ­juvenile lifers


LANSING, Mich. (AP) — The Michigan Supreme Court says judges, not juries, have the sole power to decide whether someone under 18 gets life in prison without parole.

The 4-2 opinion, released Wednesday, centers on murder cases from St. Clair County and Genesee County. Many new sentencing hearings for so-called juvenile lifers have been on hold while a decision was in the works.

The Supreme Court says there are no constitutional violations in allowing a judge to order a no-parole sentence for a teen under 18. Chief Justice Stephen Markman says a trial judge doesn't need to find any particular fact before choosing the highest punishment.

Justices Bridget McCormack and Richard Bernstein disagreed. They also said a no-parole sentence for minors should be reviewed by appellate courts under a strict standard.

 

Michigan board set to OK redistricting ­measure for ballot


LANSING, Mich. (AP) — The Michigan elections board is set to certify a redistricting initiative for the statewide ballot in November.

The proposed constitutional amendment is backed by opponents of political gerrymandering. It would task an independent commission with drawing congressional and legislative districts once a decade instead of allowing the partisan Legislature to do it.

The Board of State Canvassers was expected to act Wednesday under an order from the Michigan Court of Appeals. The matter is not settled, though, because a group opposed to the ballot measure has filed an appeal with the Michigan Supreme Court.

The state elections bureau says Voters Not Politicians gathered 394,000 valid voter signatures, more than the roughly 315,000 needed. Organizers of the ballot drive are confident they will prevail at the high court.

 

Health officials urge lead tests near ­Michigan factory
 

PORT HURON, Mich. (AP) — Health officials are recommending that some people living near a Michigan factory get tested for lead exposure.

The Times Herald of Port Huron reports the St. Clair County Health Department says a state investigation into elevated airborne lead levels near Mueller Brass in Port Huron found the toxic metal in some soil samples in the area surrounding the factory.

The Associated Press left a message Wednesday seeking comment from Mueller Brass.

Dr. Annette Mercatante, health department director, says preliminary testing by the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality shows elevated levels in some yards in the area 55 miles (88 kilometers) northeast of Detroit.

DEQ Quality spokeswoman Tiffany Brown says in an email the agency has seen increasing concentrations in the air at an area monitoring station over the past year.