Weekly Exoneration Round Up – November 17, 2014

  • Danny Colon, 50, and Anthony Ortiz, 44, accepted a $9 million settlement last week, which tied up their lawsuits against New York City, the state, and city Housing Authority for a 1989 wrongful murder conviction that led to both men serving 16 years in prison. Over the last year, the Brooklyn DA’s Conviction Review Unit has been reopening and reviewing every conviction in which notable homicide Detective Louis Scarcella was the lead investigator.
  • Release “feels like a million bricks off your back,” according to the recently exonerated Derrick Hamilton. Mr. Hamilton, who served 20 years in prison for a murder he did not commit, was exonerated this past week in Brooklyn after being paroled 3 years ago. The media attention surrounding his case lead to Brooklyn DA Kenneth Thompson’s decision to establish a Conviction Review Unit and reinvestigate a number of questionable convictions obtained during the 1980s and 90s. In fact, Mr. Hamilton’s case formed a new legal precedent for establishing actual innocence at the appellate level in holding that testimony from alibi witnesses who were not on the initial trial’s witness list IS admissible. Mr. Thompson’s Office has exonerated 11 former murder defendants in this past year alone.
  • Read here about David Milgaard’s exoneration in Canada, his plea to pay attention to the number of wrongfully convicted men and women who are still presently imprisoned, and his advice to college students – “Be a friend. Simply be a friend.”
  • Finally, follow this fascinating PBS NewsHour Twitter conversation on what we as a society owe to the exonerated upon their release. Only 30 states offer compensation to the wrongfully convicted, and the size and scope of those compensation packages vary from state-to-state.

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