Calls to Take a Proseuctor's License

William Dedge walked out of a Florida prison last week after serving 22 years for a rape he didn't commit. Finally, the press is asking, who's accountable when this happens? The St. Petersburg Times is calling for an independent investigation to answer that question--and for the prosecutor to lose his law license if it turns out he is at fault:

Money is only part of the recompense. Dedge also needs to know that the people who helped to steal his youth will face their own judgment. Being a prosecutor is a high privilege and with that comes the corresponding responsibility to put truth-seeking above all other considerations. When prosecutors are uninterested in evidence of a defendant's innocence, they have lost their professional way. They should not only lose their job but their license to practice law.

The States' Attorneys office say there will be no such investigation into the prosecutor, who fought allowing Dedge to get a DNA test for 8 years, and then, after the results came back showing Dedge was not the rapist, insisted for three years Dedge was still guilty. As Carl Hiaassen says, it's an abomination.

Florida does not allow compensation for the wrongfully convicted. That needs to change as well.

The prisons had trained him to operate a water treatment plant. He has job offers in that field and others. He thinks Florida should reimburse what his parents spent for lawyers out of their retirement fund, more than $100,000, before Innocence Project volunteer Milton Hirsch of Miami took his case pro bono. Florida has no mechanism to compensate the wrongfully convicted, so if the Dedges are to get anything, the Legislature will have to agree to it. Whatever it turns out to be, it won't be enough.

Major kudos to Barry Scheck and Milton Hirsch--but for their dogged persistence, Mr. Dedge would still be in jail.

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