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Anthony Hart

Other Sex Offender Registration Exonerations
On July 5, 2013, 29-year-old Anthony Hart, who was homeless, registered as a sex offender in Hillsdale, Michigan. He listed his address as 79 Budlong Street, where he was living in a backyard tree house.

Hart had been duly registering as a sex offender since 2001, when he was adjudicated as a juvenile and placed on probation for having sex at age 16 with a 13-old girl. By the time the case was completed, he was 17 and the Michigan Sex Offender Act required him to report and register his address twice a year for 25 years.

On July 17, 2013, Hillsdale police determined that Hart was actually staying in the backyard of 76 Budlong Street—not 79 Budlong Street—and arrested him for providing a false address in violation of the registration act. Hart spent a night in jail and was released on bond. On August 14, 2013, he pled no contest in Hillsdale County Circuit Court and was sentenced to probation and $100 in costs.

Five months later, on January 23, 2014, Hillsdale police again arrested Hart for failing to register. On February 18, 2014, Hart pled guilty and was sentenced to 16 to 24 months in prison and ordered to pay $1,026.94 in fees.

In August 2015—more than a year later—prison officials discovered that Hart had not been required to register as a sex offender since July 2011. At that time, legislation was enacted that eliminated the registration requirement for offenders who had been adjudicated as juveniles. The legislation mandated that Michigan State Police remove all such individuals from the registry, and notify them that they were no longer required to register.

On August 21, 2015, Daphne Johnson, an administrator in the Michigan Department of Corrections, wrote a letter to Hart’s attorney and Hillsdale County Circuit Judge Michael Smith, who had imposed the prison term on Hart. Johnson said that when Hart was first entered into the sex offender registry, he was listed as an adult, not as a juvenile. As a result, when the law was enacted that eliminated the registration requirement for offenders adjudicated as juveniles, Hart was not identified as someone who no longer had to register.

On August 25, 2015, Judge Smith signed an order vacating and dismissing Hart’s 2014 conviction based on a joint motion from Hart’s defense attorney and the Hillsdale County Prosecutor’s office. Hart was then released.

On November 17, 2015, Hillsdale County Judge Sara S. Lisznyai signed an order vacating Hart’s 2013 conviction.

Hart subsequently filed a federal civil rights lawsuit seeking damages for his wrongful convictions, which he settled for $55,000 in 2022. Hart also filed a lawsuit in state court, but it was dismissed.

– Maurice Possley

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Posting Date: 5/1/2018
Most Serious Crime:Sex Offender Registration
Additional Convictions:
Reported Crime Date:2013
Age at the date of reported crime:29
Contributing Factors:Inadequate Legal Defense
Did DNA evidence contribute to the exoneration?:No