By Mike Householder, Associated Press
DETROIT (AP) – The Michigan Supreme Court has agreed to hear the case of a man whose release from prison after 20 years was granted by Gov. Jennifer Granholm but quickly reversed in an extraordinary act just days before she left office in 2010.
The high court made the announcement in an order dated Friday and released Saturday.
The state appeals court ruled last year that it had no authority to intervene in how Granholm handled the case of Matthew Makowski, who is serving a mandatory no-parole sentence for first-degree murder.
Makowski’s lawyers, including University of Michigan law professor Paul Reingold and former state Supreme Court Justice Charles Levin, argued that Granholm’s commutation order was final the moment she signed and filed the official documents.
“I’m pleased to hear” that the Supreme Court will take up the case, Levin said Saturday. A message seeking comment was left with the state attorney general’s office.
Granholm commuted Makowski’s sentence in one of her final acts as governor, qualifying him for parole. But in an unprecedented move, she rescinded the order within 48 hours, on Christmas Eve 2010, when the victim’s family protested. Family members said they were not told that Makowski was being considered for release and only read of the commutation in the news.
The Supreme Court said it wants lawyers arguing the case to include discussions of what authority state courts have to review actions taken by the governor and whether the commutation of Makowski’s sentence was completed before Granholm took steps to revoke it.
Makowski, now 46, was convicted of murder in the 1988 stabbing of Pietro “Pete” Puma, a co-worker at a Dearborn health club.
There is no question that he wasn’t present when Puma was killed. But Makowski was convicted because he arranged a robbery committed by two other men that turned fatal when Puma resisted.
Makowski’s supporters have said he has an excellent record in prison and has led many inmates to Christianity.
The man who stabbed Puma is serving a life sentence, while the other robbery participant was paroled in 1993.
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