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Wolverine Watchmen Denied Release Pending Their Appeals and a Show Cause Order on the Michigan Department of Corrections
December 04, 2023
LANSING – Two members of the Wolverine Watchmen – Paul Bellar and Joseph Morrison – were denied a bond Friday that would have permitted their release pending the appeals they have filed from their convictions, Michigan Attorney General Nessel announced. In addition, Bellar’s and Morrison’s attempt to show cause the Michigan Department of Corrections due to their placement in federal prisons was likewise denied.
Paul Bellar and Joseph Morrison were each convicted and sentenced late last year for providing material support for terrorist acts, gang membership, and carrying or possessing a firearm during the commission of a felony. They are three of a group of men that were arrested after a joint operation by state and federal authorities in early October 2020 exposed a plot that included targeting law enforcement officers, threatening violence to incite a civil war, planning an attack on the state Capitol building and kidnapping government officials, including Governor Gretchen Whitmer.
Following their sentence, the trial court appointed attorneys for Bellar and Morrison so that they could pursue an appeal of their convictions. The appellate attorneys for both men today asked Jackson County Circuit Court Thomas Wilson, who oversaw their trial, to release them pending resolution of their appeals. They also asked Judge Wilson to issue an order requiring the MDOC to show cause as to why Bellar and Morrison were sent to federal prisons to serve out their sentence rather than remain in the MDOC prison system. The Department of Attorney General opposed all of these requests.
Following a hearing Friday, Judge Wilson denied all of the requests by Bellar and Morrison. Judge Wilson found that Bellar and Morrison had not met the very high burden required of a prisoner seeking bond pending appeal who was convicted of serious crimes like providing material support for a terrorist act. Judge Wilson also found that Bellar’s and Morrison’s complaints about serving their sentences in federal prisons were not properly before him.