Gov. Terry McAuliffe Grants Absolute Pardon to Michael McAlister in Wrongful Conviction Case


Washington, D.C., May 13, 2015 -- Miller & Chevalier is pleased to announce that its client, Michael McAlister, who had spent more than 29 years in prison for an attempted rape he did not commit, is a free man after Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe issued an order today granting him an absolute pardon.

"Today I am issuing an absolute pardon for Michael Kenneth McAlister. My staff and I have carefully and thoroughly reviewed the documentation in this case and concluded that a pardon is appropriate in light of the overwhelming evidence, including a recent confession by another individual, pointing to Mr. McAlister's actual innocence of the crime for which he was convicted," Governor McAuliffe said in his official statement.

In early April 2015, Miller & Chevalier lawyers James Bensfield and Jonathan Kossak, in conjunction with the Mid-Atlantic Innocence Project (MAIP) and Richmond Commonwealth's Attorney, Michael N. Herring, filed a Joint Petition for Pardon on behalf of McAlister. At the time, McAlister faced indefinite imprisonment under a civil commitment process required by Virginia law. His first hearing was set for May 18, 2015. In a race against the clock, Governor McAuliffe ordered that the review of McAlister's Petition be fast-tracked.

During the course of the review process, the actual perpetrator of the attempted rape confessed to the attack. With days left before the civil commitment hearing was to proceed, the Governor announced that he had made his decision.

"The integrity of our justice system depends on the guarantee of a fair trial that is informed by all available evidence. Protecting that integrity requires quick action in the event that new evidence comes to light," Governor McAuliffe said.

"We have been down a long path to secure justice today for our client, Mike McAlister," Bensfield and Kossak said. "The evidence of Mike's innocence was all there -- we just had to hope and pray that Governor McAuliffe would see fit to do the right thing. And he has. On behalf of the entire legal team, we thank Governor McAuliffe for proving that justice is alive and well in the Commonwealth today."

About the Mid-Atlantic Innocence Project

The Mid-Atlantic Innocence Project (MAIP) is a non-profit organization dedicated to correcting and preventing the conviction of innocent people in the District of Columbia, Maryland, and Virginia. MAIP works with a dedicated Board of Directors and scores of pro bono lawyers and law students to screen and investigate the cases of prisoners who request assistance. MAIP then provides pro bono investigative and legal help in the most compelling cases, working to ensure that innocent prisoners obtain their freedom. For more information, visit

About Miller & Chevalier

Founded in 1920, Miller & Chevalier is a Washington, D.C. law firm with a global perspective and leading practices in Tax, Employee Benefits (including ERISA), International Law and Business, White Collar and Internal Investigations, Complex Litigation, and Government Affairs. In an era of big law, Miller & Chevalier is a top-ranked firm sharply focused on targeted areas that interact with the federal government. Over the past three years, the firm's lawyers have represented more than 40 percent of the Fortune 100, one-quarter of the Fortune 500 and approximately 30 percent of the Global 100. Based in Washington, D.C., a significant number of firm lawyers have held senior positions in the U.S. government and have written many of the regulations they currently help clients navigate. For more information on the firm, visit


James Bensfield, Miller & Chevalier, 202-626-6032
Laura Miller, Media Relations, Greentarget, 312-252-4104


Related Files
Related Links