Yesterday, Attorney General Chris Koster filed a response to Cornealious "Mike" Anderson's plea to be released from a Mississippi County prison. Unsurprisingly, it argues that the judge hearing this case should deny Anderson's request.
Anderson is nine months into a sentence for an armed robbery that took place in 1999 -- he was mistakenly free from prison for thirteen years because of a clerical error, and during those years completely turned his life around. He's a dad, a businessman, an upstanding member of the community. Riverfront Times broke the story of his arrest in July in our cover story "The (Extremely) Long (and Sometimes Forgetful) Arm of the Law."
Anderson's attorney filed a writ of habeas corpus back in December calling this "cruel and unusual punishment" and asking for Anderson's release. While Koster argues against this, his response lays to rest what caused the delayed sentence and includes a possible path for Anderson to be immediately considered for probation.
If you're unfamiliar with the saga, check out some of our previous coverage to get up to speed:
-- Original feature story -- Cornealious "Mike" Anderson: An Epilogue to the RFT Story Featured On This American Life -- Petition Asks MO Attorney General Chris Koster to Release Cornealious "Mike" Anderson
Koster's filing is the first official response from the AG's office. It answers one key question that we were unable to get a response to in the course of our reporting: How did this happen? According to Koster, the screw-up occurred when someone in the St. Charles County Court failed to alert the Missouri Supreme Court that Anderson was issued a bond and released:
Missouri Supreme Court Rule 33.10 requires the clerk of the releasing court to transmit a copy of the release and conditions to the court in which the person on bond is to appear. The docket sheets of the Missouri Court of Appeals and the Missouri Supreme Court do not indicate a clerk of the trial court ever forwarded Anderson's bond to the Missouri Court of Appeals and the Missouri Supreme Court (Resp. Ex. 1).
However, it rejects the idea that Anderson was an innocent victim of a bureaucratic flub. It states that he does not have "unclean hands" because he knew that he was out improperly and did not "make an inquiry":
The record does not indicate that either Anderson or his appellate or post-conviction counsel ever told the Missouri Supreme Court that Anderson was on an appellate bond that had terminated. Instead Anderson took advantage of the situation in the apparent hope that no one would ever bring the bond to the Court's attention.
But perhaps the most interesting and unexpected part of the reply is that it lays out a possible path for Anderson to be immediately considered for parole.