Advance Notice: Briefs

Nessel asks court to reject Nassar re-sentencing appeal

By: - May 10, 2019 1:25 pm

Larry Nassar stands as he is sentenced by Judge Janice Cunningham for three counts of criminal sexual assault in Eaton County Circuit Court on February 5, 2018 in Charlotte, Michigan. | Scott Olson/Getty Images

Attorney General Dana Nessel is asking the Michigan Court of Appeals to reject an appeal from disgraced former Michigan State University gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar, who was sentenced to between 40 and 175 years in prison for sexually abusing more than 100 young girls.

Nessel wrote in a legal brief in reply to Nassar’s attorneys that Ingham County Judge Rosemarie Aquilina’s ruling should not be overturned. She argued the county judge was well within her legal rights in the comments she made condemning Nassar’s “horrific misdeeds,” the brief said.

The attorney general’s legal comments come after Nassar appealed the court ruling in December 2018, arguing that Nassar “had a due process right to be sentenced by a judge free from even the appearance of bias.”

His attorneys argued that “Judge Aquilina was admittedly not an unbiased and impartial judge” and therefore “re-sentencing before a different judge is required.”

Nessel disagrees. She argued that the judge made the comments in question only after Nassar had already been sentenced, and wrote that judges are permitted “to express the moral outrage of the community” and are “not limited to … weighing the severity of the crime and the offender like a mathematician crunching numbers.”

Rosemarie Aquilina

The attorney general wrote in conclusion: “The magnitude of the sentencing hearing and the sometimes caustic language the judge used directly resulted from Nassar’s horrific misdeeds.

“As the judge herself stated, ‘Maybe I have not stated things perfectly, but I ask you to sit and listen for seven days to heartbroken children.’ In the end, the judge heard from victims that Nassar agreed could speak and imposed a sentence within the range that Nassar approved.”

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Michael Gerstein
Michael Gerstein

Michael Gerstein is a former Advance reporter covering the Governor's office, criminal justice and the environment.