Is it possible to be sentenced to 261 years in jail? Apparently, the answer is yes — and that is exactly what happened to Shawn Springer, 35, from South Dakota. In 1996, Springer pleaded guilty to kidnapping charges and confirmed his role in the murder of taxi driver Michael Hare. Springer was just 17 years old at the time of the shooting, and his accomplice who actually committed the murder, Paul Jensen, was 14, also a minor.
“Springer is appealing the sentence following a U.S. Supreme Court ruling in 2012 that prohibits mandatory sentences of life in prison without parole for juveniles,” The Associated Press reports. “Springer argues his sentence is essentially a life sentence.” Like anyone else convicted of a crime, Springer is fully within his rights to question the legality of his punishment, according to appellate lawyers and criminal defense attorneys. Right now, 179 judges work for the U.S. Court of Appeals or the federal circuit court. At least one has already denied to review Springer’s case in June 2013.
Thanks to help from appellate lawyers and federal appeals attorneys, the U.S. Supreme Court will revisit the case on Oct. 6.
Springer is not the only South Dakota man appealing for a second chance. Oakley Engesser, 55, spent the last 13 years in prison for a crime many now concede that he did not commit. In 2001, courts charged Engesser with 25 years in prison for driving a Corvette at 100 miles per hour, driving recklessly, crashing, and ultimately killing his friend. Recently, several eye witnesses have presented new evidence, stating that a female friend — not Engesser — was driving the vehicle at the time of impact.
Every term, appeal law firms and their clients bring more than 10,000 cases up for review. Springer’s 261 year sentence and Engesser’s 25 year sentences are just a few of the convictions that will be appealed — and possibly even exonerated.
Speak with an appellate lawyer.