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California man files civil rights case 36 years after wrongful conviction

Michael Ray Hanline holds a record no one wants to break. The 69-year old man has served the longest sentence of any wrongly convicted citizen in California.

Finally Free

Released and exonerated last year, Hanline has filed a lawsuit against Ventura County for violations of his civil rights. The lawsuit alleges negligent handling of his case, and claims that his right to live and work as a free man were taken from him by those acts of negligence.

Flaws in Case Revealed in Investigation

Hanline was convicted in 1980 for the 1978 murder of J.T. McGarry. His conviction was overturned in 2014, due to the ongoing efforts of the California Innocence Project and Hanline's wife, Sandee.

In reviewing Hanline's conviction, the district attorney's office acknowledged that the case that put Hanline behind bars for more than half of his life was flawed. The prosecution centered their argument around Hanline's motive: that he and the victim were romantically involved with the same woman. But interviews that led to Hanline's exoneration suggested others had both the motive and opportunity to kill McGarry.

Additionally, it was discovered that DNA evidence collected at the scene did not belong to Hanline. It also came to light that a key witness against Hanline testified at the trial while under the influence of drugs.

Seeking Justice

Hanline's suit against the Ventura County district attorney's office and sheriff's department alleges that both deputies and prosecutors concealed evidence and falsified information to force a conviction against Hanline. It claims that his wrongful incarceration violated his civil rights. The suit does not specify damages sought.

Any criminal allegations are a serious matter. If you face such accusations, a criminal defense attorney can uphold your rights in the justice system.


Longest serving wrongly convicted inmate claims civil rights were violated,, Veronica Rocha, 13 November 2015

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