MI AG Tricks those Fighting for Exoneree Rights
It took over eight years in the MI legislature for the Wrongful Imprisonment Compensation Act (WICA) to eventually pass. The WICA was to provide some measure of financial compensation to those whose lives were unjustly ripped away from them by the State. When reading the article on their website, you will learn that MI Attorney Bill Schuette is using some other state law which says that the filings must be made within 6 months from the time the WICA became law, even though the Act itself explicitly says 18 months!! Pathetically, the courts have agreed with him.
For argument sake only, that might have made sense, if it were not for one thing: the Attorney General's Office had a lot of influence on the formation of the WICA! Many within the wrongful conviction movement in Michigan complained about how much influence he had. One exoneree said, "I thought the legislature was supposed to write the laws; not the Attorney General! Why does he have so much to say about it?". It doesn't make sense that Schuette's office would be so involved in negotiations to bring about a acceptable bill, and then for this surprise assault on the claims of court-determined exonerees. When PI asked Dave Moran, a key architect of WICA, he said,
I never spoke to Schuette personally about WICA. But we had many meetings with his representatives, including many discussions about the 18-month statute of limitations. They never gave any hint whatsoever that they would invoke this separate 6-month statute to try to defeat the claims. They silently waited 6 months to spring this on unsuspecting claimants. And that is despicable.
So, let's get this straight. Schuette's office gave feedback during the formation of the law about what was acceptable and what was not. His office had a role in drafting the law. Now that exonerees have filed claims within the explicit time frame stated in the bill, Schuette is using some other law to throw out the claims, something conveniently left out of the negotiations? People can disagree about the law, but this was out and out deception. Shame on you, Bill Schuette.