“I’m firmly convinced of Mark’s innocence, so I could not be more delighted,” said UM Carey Law Professor Renee Hutchins when she learned that on Thursday, March 29, Maryland’s Governor Martin O’Malley had commuted the life sentence of her client, Mark Farley Grant, who has been imprisoned for murder since 1983, when he was 14.
Grant is now 43 and has consistently maintained his innocence.
In 2004, Hutchins, UM Carey Law Professor Michael Milleman and their law clinic students started to investigate Grant’s case. They quickly began to uncover evidence to support Grant’s claim and, three years later, wrote a report concluding that there was “no question” he was innocent.
Hutchins and her clinic students filed a clemency petition with the Governor’s office. “We have been in continuous negotiations with them,” she said.
In the meantime, a key witness against Grant recanted, the parole commission found he was not a threat to public safety and the trial prosecutor asked O’Malley to commute his sentence.
O’Malley’s decision to do so was unprecedented until he commuted Grant’s sentence and that of another convicted murderer; the governor has denied 57 clemency or parole requests from people serving life sentences since taking office in 2007.
As Hutchins told The Baltimore Sun, “This case has been a labor of love—a lot of hard work, a lot of late nights.”