Thursday, August 23, 2012

Michigan: Commutation Retracted

In 2010, Matthew Makowski was informed that she would be given a commutation of her life sentence from Governor Gov. Jennifer Granholm. Makoski had spent more than two decades in prison for first-degree murder. But, within 48 hours, the Governor "got cold feet" - says Ed White at the Huffington Post - and "rescinded her own order." Two years later, the reversal is said to have "touched off an extraordinary legal challenge from a professor and students at the University of Michigan law school."

As the argument goes, "the governor's decision to commute the sentence was final as soon as she signed and filed the document." White reports "There is no history of an about-face like Granholm's" - which may be true in Michigan, but is certainly not true at the federal level (see our commentary here). The case is currently before the state appeals court.

Interestingly, a former state Supreme Court justice says, "There's no place that says she can undo an act of this kind. It doesn't exist. This is a very unusual story." The State's attorney general says, Granholm was free to change her mind since Makowski never really had the actual commutation certificate in his hands. Which is to say, it was not actually "delivered." White suggests the Corrections Department did not mailed it "because of a thin staff around the holidays." See full story here.

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