An Exoneree's First-hand Experience as the Compensation Bill is Signed into Law

The ceremonial Bill signing for compensation to those wrongfully imprisoned in Michigan took place in Lansing, on Tuesday February 14, 2017.

baumerCooley Law school invited Michigan exonerees to a reception prior to the signing scheduled for 3pm. I asked my elderly father if he was up to taking the trip from our residence in Roseville to our state’s capital. Of course, he was up to it. It is something that we have been waiting for a very long time. So as, not to be rushed, we arrived thirty minutes prior to the scheduled time. To my surprise, many of my fellow exonerees were already present with their families. Obviously, the joy and anticipation of the day’s events were also felt by them.

During the Cooley reception, we all had time to breath, relax, and catch up with each other. It was a moving experience and I’m thankful for the gratitude and hospitality that the staff and students from Cooley Law extended to all present.

After the reception, we all walked to the Capitol Building where we met State Representative Stephanie Change, who sponsored the bill, along with Steve Bieda in the Senate. The group was formally introduced to the House of Representatives with a warm welcoming.

Read more: An Exoneree's First-hand Experience as the Compensation Bill is Signed into Law

Update on the Wrongful Imprisonment Compensation Bill

After over eight years of being stalled in committee, the Michigan House Bill - 4536, commonly known as the "wrongful imprisonment compensation act", passed 8 to 0. Thirty other states have enacted such a bill in the recognition that the state must be responsible when it deprives individuals of years of their lives when they are indeed innocent.

Not only has it passed committee, but a reading of the bill shows that it has jettisoned much of the weaknesses of earlier versions. Those versions had layer after layer to restrictions about the particular causes of the alleged crime and that it only applied to convictions overturned by strong scientific evidence, such as DNA. Such restrictions were a result of political concessions that made no sense and catered to lawmakers full of myths about wrongful convictions and tier causes. In fact, while many urged acceptance of such a bill because "politics is compromise" and "get what you can now", others invested in the passage of such a bill, such as Ken Wyniemko, himself an exoneree and activist in this cause, could not put their support behind it. It was, indeed, disappointing and infuriating to read. It inexplicably said that being exonerated by the same courts that convicted the person wasn't enough.

The current bill as it was introduced into committee is a breath of fresh air. It is more rational, acknowledging that when the courts acknowledged the error, the state need to act out of a responsibility which it has to make things right, to the degree that such a thing is even possible. Below this article you will find the link to download the bill. Next step, call your representative and express your support.

Attorney Grievance

Attorney Grievance Commission  www.agcmi.com   

Here is the link to the R/I form  http://www.agcmi.com/pages/RequestInvestigation.html

 

Attorney Grievance Commission
535 Griswold St., Ste. 1700
Detroit, MI 48226
Phone: 313-961-6585

 

Mark A. Armitage, Executive Director

Michigan Attorney Discipline Board

211 W. Fort Street, Suite 1410

Detroit  MI  48226

(313) 963-5553

(313) 963-5571 (fax)

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Bridget McCormack, co-director of U of M's Innocence Clinic, Elected to an 8 year term on the Michigan Supreme Court!

PI's non-profit status does not allow us to endorse or campaign for any candidate. But now that the election is over, we can freely state our congratulations to Bridget. Our experience in interacting with Bridget has shown her to be one of the most even handed, reasonable and just-minded persons we have dealt with. We know that these qualities, combined with a sharp legal mind, will bring sane minded decision making to the Michigan Supreme Court regarding, not only the issues involving the wrongfully convicted, but the myriad of other issues facing our society today.

Our best wishes go to Bridget and her family. 

Calhoun County (MI) Prosecutor's Race

On another front, the still pending case of Lorinda Swain, which Bridget McCormack has been leading, should be helped by the defeat of Calhoun County Prosecutor Susan Mladenoff. Mladenoff's constant efforts to keep Swain behind bars in the face of overwhelming evidence that she is innocent is almost pathological in nature and a clear waste of tax payers' money. There is little question that the voters' disgust with the way Mladenoff has handled this case was a contributing factor in her defeat. It is our hope that David Gilbert will bring a sane and sober approach to Lorinda's and all the cases brought before the Calhoun County Court.

Read more: Bridget McCormack, co-director of U of M's Innocence Clinic, Elected to an 8 year term on the...

Wrongful Imprisonment Compensation Act

Michigan needs to adopt a Wrongful Imprisonment Compensation Act. 27 states have already done so.
 
We encourage you to read the actual wording of the bill, both House and Senate versions.
 
Michigan needs a Compensation Act. When you call your State representative, we encourage you to be supportive of the bill, but do not hesitate to educate your representative about some of its weaknesses.

Listen to the testimony of Ken Wyniemko in the 2008 hearings explaining the need for this law.

Some of these weaknesses are:

  • This bill disqualifies anyone who made a confession or took a plea. But the data is overwhelming, that false confessions are a regular ingredient in wrongful convictions, especially when the person is a youth or mentally challenged person, easily manipulated and bullied by an overzealous official. And they should be disqualified when their actions were the result of one of the very problems that lead to wrongful convictions?

Read more: Wrongful Imprisonment Compensation Act