Michael Hanline’s Conviction Reversed – Release Expected Monday
California Innocence Project Client’s Conviction Reversed After 36 Years
Longest Wrongful Incarceration in California History – First of the California 12 To Be Released
Ventura, November 18, 2014 – A judge has overturned the
conviction of Michael Hanline, convicted of a murder that was committed
in 1978, after lawyers from the California Innocence Projectand
the Ventura County District Attorney’s Office agreed that documents
were withheld from Hanline at his original trial showing that others may
have been responsible for the crime.
Additionally, new DNA evidence pointing to Hanline’s innocence undermined the District Attorney’s confidence in the conviction.
At 36 years, this ends the longest wrongful incarceration in
Hanline was wrongfully convicted of the shooting death of
victim J.T. McGarry in 1980. At the time, prosecutors argued Hanline was
jealous of McGarry because the two were romantically involved with the
same woman, and that Hanline and an accomplice killed McGarry in
revenge. Hanline has always claimed others were responsible for the
murder, and that he had been wrongfully accused.
The California Innocence Project began looking into Hanline’s case in
1999, the year the project was founded, and fought for years to obtain
evidence from the 1978 murder. Finally, in 2008 a federal magistrate
ruled that his conviction should be overturned. Unfortunately, another
federal judge overruled the reversal. Hanline’s case seemed to be over,
and his only other option appeared to be the granting of clemency from
the Governor. His case was one of the California 12—twelve cases
where innocence clemency petitions were presented to Governor Brown 18
months ago after a 712 mile Innocence March from San Diego to Sacramento
by lawyers from the California Innocence Project.
“DNA testing recently conducted shows that another individual
committed this crime and proves Mike’s innocence,” said Justin Brooks,
Director of the California Innocence Project at California Western
School of Law and one of the lawyers who walked 712 miles in the
Innocence March. “It’s amazing that Mike will finally be released after
36 years of wrongful incarceration. It’s time for him to get back to his
family and his life.”
“I’m so pleased that the Ventura County District Attorney’s Office
agreed to examine the case and join us in the petition to reverse the
conviction,” said Alex Simpson, Associate Director of the California
Innocence Project at California Western School of Law and the attorney
who argued the petition. “This is how cases should be resolved.”
Hanline will appear before Judge Donald Coleman of the Ventura County
Superior Court on November 24 where he is expected to be released.
About the California Innocence Project
The California Innocence Project is a California Western School of
Law clinical program dedicated to the release of wrongfully convicted
inmates and providing an outstanding educational experience for students
enrolled in the clinic. The California Innocence Project receives
approximately 2,000 claims from inmates each year and has earned the
exoneration of 11 wrongfully convicted clients since its inception.