Contact: Rabiah Burks
FAMM Disappointed in Rejection of Michael Giles’ Appeal
Says one-size-fits-all sentencing laws are to blame
Tallahassee, Fla. – FAMM (Families Against Mandatory Minimums) expressed disappointment today in the denial of a legal appeal by Michael Giles. Florida’s First District Court of Appeal denied Giles’ appeal of a 2011 conviction for aggravated battery. Giles was seeking a new trial based on a claim of ineffective assistance of counsel. The First DCA rejected the claim in a 2-1 opinion issued on Monday.
Giles, who was serving in the U.S. Air Force at the time of his offense, is currently serving a 25-year mandatory minimum sentence under Florida’s 10-20-Life sentencing law. The sentencing judge in Giles’ case called the sentence “overly harsh,” but noted he had “no legal authority to impose less than” the mandatory sentence.
Greg Newburn, FAMM’s state policy director and a Florida resident, was disheartened by the impact of the decision on Giles and his family. “Michael Giles should have been judged as an individual, and his sentence should have fit his crime,” Newburn said. “Instead, Florida’s policy-by-bumper-sticker laws required a thoughtless sentence that has nothing to do with public safety.”
Giles may appeal the First DCA ruling to the Florida Supreme Court. If unsuccessful, he will remain incarcerated until 2035, unless his sentence is commuted before then. “If the courts can’t fix this injustice, the Executive Clemency Board should,” Newburn said.
Giles’ mother, Phyllis, started a petition online urging clemency for her son. To date, she has gathered more than 150,000 signatures in support. In response to today’s ruling, Phyllis Giles said, “Our family is heartbroken. No one believes Michael deserves 25 years in prison but no one will step up and fix it. Where is the justice in our justice system?”
FAMM is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization fighting for smart sentencing and prison policies that protect public safety.
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