The Michigan Supreme Court has held that the Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC) does not have authority to cancel a parole discharge once granted, and that courts have no authority to modify a sentence in response to an MDOC letter.
In 1999, Gregory L. Holder was convicted of drug crimes and sentenced to prison. He was paroled in April 2005, and the MDOC gave him an early parole discharge on July 22, 2005. Police, however, had placed Holder under investigation due to a confidential informant’s tip.
The police investigation ended on March 1, 2006, recovering large amounts of cocaine, drug paraphernalia, and guns. Holder reached a plea bargain with the prosecution, and a presentence report prepared by MDOC on February 6, 2007, said Holder was not on parole. A month later Holder was sentenced to three lengthy concurrent sentences.
In May 2007, MDOC sent Holder notice that the July 2005 parole discharge was “cancelled.” In January 2008, MDOC sent a letter to the trial judge informing him for the cancellation, requesting he amend the sentence to make it run “consecutive to parole.” Without notice or hearing to Holder or the prosecutor, the judge amended the sentence.
The Supreme Court held that MDOC’s ability to exert custody and control over a paroled prisoner is statutorily limited to those “on parole,” but it has no statutory authority to retain any continuing authority over a parolee once parole has been terminated.
“While we agree with the Attorney General that permitting the [M]DOC to rescind an order of parole discharge ‘makes practical sense’ and is ‘good policy,’ it is a matter that should be addressed by our Legislature, not this Court,” states the opinion.
The Court further said that “we wish to reiterate that any notices sent from the [M]DOC to the courts and parties regarding sentencing errors are merely informational, and any requests contained therein merely advisory.”
Since the original sentence of judgment was valid when imposed, the trial court had no authority to modify it. Thus, the amended judgment was vacated.
See: People of the State of Michigan v. Holder, 767 N.W.2d 423 (2009).
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Related legal case
People of the State of Michigan v. Holder
|Cite||767 N.W.2d 423 (2009)|
|Level||State Supreme Court|