Thursday, February 17, 2011

Texas man wrongly put away for 18 years denied compensation after legal glitch

A courtroom technicality has cost a wrongly convicted Texas man the compensation that would otherwise be due him for the 18 years he'd served in Texas prison--14 of which he spent on Death Row.

Anthony Graves would have received $1.4 million in compensation if only the words "actual innocence" had been included in the judge's order that secured Graves's release from prison. The Comptroller's office decided the omission means Graves gets zero dollars, writes Harvey Rice at the Houston Chronicle, even though the prosecutor, judge, and defense all agreed at trial he is innocent.

So how did this happen? Cory Session, a Texas Innocence Project policy director and one of the architects of the 2009 Tim Cole compensation law for exonerated prisoners, tells The Lookout that the Brenham prosecutor's office decided to dismiss the murder charges they originally filed against Graves, instead of retrying him all over again and finding him innocent. The compensation law provides $80,000 per year in prison only to claimants explicitly found innocent in a retrial or who are granted a pardon. Neither status now applies to Graves.


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