$1.2 Million Approved for Colo. Wrongfully Convicted Inmate

Robert Dewey served 17 years of a life sentence for a Colorado rape and murder DNA evidence later proved he did not commit.

After release from prison in 2012, he had nothing. In June, Colorado passed a law (available here) allowing up to $70,000. a year compensation to the wrongly convicted. Dewey was present when Governor Hickenlooper signed the bill into law.

A Colorado judge has now approved a $1.2 million settlement to Dewey. 5280 Magazine has a long feature article on Dewey's journey, Resurrection.

Of note: [More...]

In 2010, armed with a $1.4 million federal grant, Denver District Attorney Mitch Morrissey, Colorado Attorney General John Suthers, and others formed the Colorado Justice Review Project (CJRP), a prosecution-based exoneration program. Its goal: Review the cases of incarcerated inmates serving time for violent crimes, find examples of potential wrongful conviction, and begin the exhaustive process of getting the inmates released through DNA testing.

Groups like the Innocence Project often have to litigate for every shred of information; the CJRP has the cooperation of every district attorney in Colorado.

< Syria: The Obvious Questions About Doing "Something" | NFL Players and Marijuana >
  • The Online Magazine with Liberal coverage of crime-related political and injustice news

  • Contribute To TalkLeft

  • Display: Sort:

    I am so glad (5.00 / 1) (#2)
    by Zorba on Wed Sep 04, 2013 at 04:39:55 PM EST
    that the Attorney General and the Colorado DA's are so on board with this, and that they formed the CJRP.
    This does not happen in every state.  Too many times, the DA's have not been in favor of compensating, or even investigating, wrongful convictions.  And in fact, they often try to fight these investigations.
    Good for Colorado for finally recognizing that injustices have been committed, and compensating the wrongfully convicted.
    Of course, that does not give Robert Dewey those lost years back, and it never will.  But at least it's a start.

    I agree (none / 0) (#3)
    by sj on Wed Sep 04, 2013 at 04:44:37 PM EST
    This is good. And frankly I didn't expect to see this from Mitch. I remember when he was running for DA (he already worked in the DA's office) and his big accomplishment that he touted was his high conviction rate -- which (as I recall) was very, very high. High enough that I thought there was no way that all those defendants were guilty. I don't know what happened while I was out East, but this is very, very good.

    oy (5.00 / 2) (#5)
    by sj on Wed Sep 04, 2013 at 05:53:34 PM EST
    VEY!!! (5.00 / 1) (#6)
    by Dadler on Wed Sep 04, 2013 at 06:11:16 PM EST
    This is one of them folks (5.00 / 1) (#7)
    by scribe on Wed Sep 04, 2013 at 06:37:13 PM EST
    who showed up as instant experts during that recent case down in Florida, right?  Instant experts who invariably come down in favor of the prosecution.

    I kinda hope Cassandra gets wrongfully accused, needs a criminal defense lawyer and gets one who, by her/his definition, commits "malpractice" when the prosecution gets a wrongful conviction. I know it's neither polite nor tactful to express such a feeling, but I'm tired of the endless supply of self-righteous, arrogant, aggressively stupid/ignorant people showing up on the internet absolutely convinced of the rightness of their position, the overwhelming weight of facts and law to the contrary notwithstanding.  I have little patience and less inclination to disabuse the stupid/ignorant of their stupidity/ignorance any more - they value and heed the education they get in direct proportion to the amount they pay for it and I have not yet developed a mechanism to extract money from giving accurate advice/commentary across the internet.

    So I hope they get their education from experience, in the words of Ben Franklin "a dear [i.e., expensive] teacher, but some will have no other."


    There is Inequity in These Awards (5.00 / 1) (#8)
    by RickyJim on Wed Sep 04, 2013 at 07:52:44 PM EST
    Check out this New York Case.  Jeffrey Deskovic spent almost 16 years in prison for a murder he didn't commit.  He has been awarded $5.4M from the city of Peekskill to compensate for the shoddy work their detectives did, $6.5M by the country of Westchester to compensate for the wrongful prosecution and $1.8M from New York State for the wrongful imprisonment.  I don't know if Deskovic and his lawyers are through.  Why not also sue the individual detectives?  The judge and jury did a crummy job also to accept an argument like, "The reason the DNA didn't match Deskovic is that the semen found in the victim could have come from an unknown boyfriend."  I never heard of a judge and jury being sued, however.  But why should he get so much more than the Colorado defendant?  

    He got more because (5.00 / 1) (#9)
    by scribe on Wed Sep 04, 2013 at 08:55:28 PM EST
    of two things:  New York is New York and Colorado Colorado.  Moreover, the Colorado award of damages was a settlement, and from all appearances the New York results came after trials.  Colorado's adopting the program it did is a way of avoiding large trial awards.

    Too many variables (none / 0) (#11)
    by Yman on Thu Sep 05, 2013 at 08:08:24 AM EST
    Different plaintiffs (ages, occupations, earning potential, etc.), negligent or wrongful acts, amount of evidence of negligent/wrongful acts, etc.

    ... but mostly, differing laws regarding wrongful convictions and what amount (if any) a plaintiff is permitted to recover under such circumstances.  Wrongful conviction laws are a matter of state law, and vary widely by state.  In fact, @ 23 states have no wrongful conviction statutes, and the only reason Dewey was able to get any recovery was the Colorado law passed specifically to address his situation.


    Not Correct (none / 0) (#10)
    by RickyJim on Wed Sep 04, 2013 at 09:30:54 PM EST
    There never were any trials involved in Deskovic getting damages.  The article I cited gives this detail about the latest settlement:
    "We're pleased the city's insurance carriers have reached an agreement with Mr. Deskovic," Corporation Counsel Edward Dunphy said in a statement. "The settlement has been resolved to the satisfaction of all parties, and after many years, the matter is now closed and we can all move forward."

    The Common Council approved the settlement unanimously. Insurance will cover the lion's share of the settlement. The city must pay a $910,000 deductible and anticipates bonding that amount.