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Michigan Court of Appeals denies Nassar's request for new hearing

December 22, 2020
<p>Side of the 54B District Court from Park Lane. Shot on Sept. 10, 2020.</p>

Side of the 54B District Court from Park Lane. Shot on Sept. 10, 2020.

Photo by Lauren DeMay | The State News

A three-judge panel from the Michigan Court of Appeals ruled that convicted sex offender Larry Nassar will not receive a new sentencing hearing in Ingham County.

In an unpublished opinion, Court of Appeals Judges Thomas C. Cameron and Michael F. Gadola ruled that Nassar is not entitled to resentencing.

"In sum, we conclude that Nassar has failed to establish plain error given that the sentencing judge’s comments did not indicate actual bias or prejudice," the order from the Court of Appeals said. "... Because we conclude that Nassar is not entitled to resentencing, we need not address his argument that he is entitled to be resentenced before a different judge."

Nassar argued in his plea that he should be sentenced under a different judge because Ingham County Circuit Court Judge Rosemarie Aquilina was biased while sentencing the former doctor.

Aquilina sentenced Nassar in January 2018 to 40 to 175 years in prison for sexually abusing hundreds of women and girls over several decades.

As Nassar was sentenced that day in 2018, Aquilina said, "I've just signed your death warrant."

Nassar originally attempted to appeal Aquilina's sentencing in 2018.

Fellow Court of Appeals Judge Douglas B. Shapiro said in a dissenting opinion that the appeal was "an example of bad facts making bad law."

"Judges are not robots and we should not reverse on a claim of bias because of an isolated intemperate comment or the court’s blunt condemnation of the defendant’s crimes as abhorrent and notorious," Shapiro said in the opinion. "However, when such comments are repeated on multiple occasions in the course of the sentencing and then followed post-sentencing by inappropriate remarks reinforcing the appearance of impropriety, resentencing before a different judge is required."

In the unpublished opinion, a state appellate attorney did argue that while Aquilina's comments at times might have been questionable in a court of law, they did not prove any bias was present.

"Nassar's arguments are without merit, and the judge fashioned Nassar's sentences on the basis of valid sentencing considerations, " the order said.

According to the Lansing State Journal, attorney Jacqueline McCann with the State Appellate Defender Office who represented Nassar, reportedly noted during oral arguments that the defense team would appeal the ruling if the Michigan Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the state.

This is a developing story. Stay with The State News for updates.

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