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James P. Anderson has been on California’s Death Row for almost 40 years, and has always claimed innocence of the double murder that put him there. In this interview, he reacts to Gov. Gavin Newsom’s recent moratorium on executions.Anderson and PBC have some common roots. We’re the same age, and grew up in Cincinnati just a mile or two apart. James used to ride his bike to go fishing from my grandmother’s property along the Little Miami River, and now we live a couple of miles apart here in Marin County; the Secret Studio is less than a mile from San Quentin.
Your humble host has read the trial transcripts, and it’s very clear that Anderson did not get a fair trial. In a twist of fate, one of his state appellate lawyers was Alister McAllister, who was fattening his pension after serving many years in the Legislature. Before serving as counsel to a condemned prisoner, McAllister had carried the bill that re-instated the death penalty in California.
In this exchange, Anderson talks about his case and the steep challenge of proving his innocence. He explains that the moratorium doesn’t change his custody status or allow him to mix with the general population. And he describes the relief that he and other guys on “The Row” felt when Newsom announced the moratorium for as long as he’s governor.