Criminal Justice

Clerical error kept man out of prison for 13 years; incarceration is cruel and unusual, he argues

A Missouri man who wasn’t ordered to report to prison until 13 years after his conviction is seeking an early release.

Because of a clerical error, Cornealious “Mike” Anderson didn’t get the order to report to prison after his 13-year sentence for armed robbery was affirmed in 2002. The problem was spotted last summer and Anderson was sent to prison, though he had stayed out of trouble in the interim. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch and the Riverfront Times’ blog Daily RFT have stories on Anderson’s quest for release.

Anderson got married, had four children and started a construction business after his conviction, the Post-Dispatch says. He filed his taxes, listed his Webster Groves address on his driver’s license, got construction permits and paid for business licenses.

Anderson’s Orlando-based lawyer, Patrick Megaro, is seeking Anderson’s release through a habeas petition. “It was particularly cruel and unusual to allow him to believe that the state had given him a reprieve to one day, out of the blue, knock down his door and take his entire life away,” Megaro wrote.

In court papers, Attorney General Chris Koster says Megaro’s argument should be rejected because he is “in the wrong form of action and the wrong venue.” The attorney general adds that the director of the Mississippi Department of Corrections would consent to venue if Megaro refiles the petition as a declaratory judgment action. The director takes no position on whether Anderson should get credit for time served, the filing says, but if he does get credit Anderson would immediately be eligible for parole.

Megaro told the Post-Dispatch he feared that approach might not work. “If I take them up on their offer, and the court denies it, it doesn’t really do much good,” he said.

Hat tip to Pat’s Papers.

See also:

This American Life: “Except for That One Thing”

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