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MI Supreme Court Says Governor Cannot Un-Commute Life Sentence

The Michigan Supreme Court says a governor cannot reverse an official decision to commute a prison sentence.

  Tuesday's ruling means a man sentenced to life in prison for his part in a murder now has a chance at freedom.

We have more from The Michigan Public Radio Network’s Rick Pluta.

Matthew Makowski helped plan a robbery, but was not actually there when the scheme went awry and the victim was stabbed to death. For his role, Makowski was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to life without parole.  

Governor Jennifer Granholm commuted his sentence in December of 2010 as one of her final acts in office, but changed her mind on Christmas Eve after the family of the victim complained.

The state Supreme Court said she could not do that -- the Michigan Constitution gives a governor the power to commute sentences, but no authority to reverse that decision once the papers are signed and filed.

This decision means Makowski is eligible now to be paroled. But that may not happen. The Michigan Parole Board three years ago said “no” to his most recent request for a recommendation of clemency.

Rick Pluta is Senior Capitol Correspondent for the Michigan Public Radio Network. He has been covering Michigan’s Capitol, government, and politics since 1987. His journalism background includes stints with UPI, The Elizabeth (NJ) Daily Journal, The (Pontiac, MI) Oakland Press, and WJR. He is also a lifelong public radio listener.
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