Ex-state lawmaker wins appeal over run for Detroit council

An undated courtesy photo of state Sen. Virgil Smith, D-Detroit.

DETROIT (AP) — The Michigan appeals court won’t stop a former state lawmaker from seeking a seat on the Detroit City Council.

Virgil Smith had agreed not to seek elective office for five years when he pleaded guilty to shooting at his ex-wife’s car. But that part of the deal was thrown out by a judge, who said it was unconstitutional.

In a 2-1 decision Tuesday, the appeals court says the judge made the right call. Judges Deborah Servitto and Michael Kelly say it would be “coercion” to allow prosecutors to try to negotiate a politician’s future as part of a plea deal.

In dissent, Judge Michael Riordan says the plea deal should have been set aside at the prosecutor’s request after Wayne County Judge Lawrence Talon stripped some key conditions.