Florida Senate - 2010                              (NP)    SB 22
       By Senator Haridopolos
       26-00107-10                                             201022__
    1                        A bill to be entitled                      
    2         An act for the relief of William Dillon, who was
    3         wrongfully incarcerated for 27 years and exonerated by
    4         a court after DNA testing; providing an appropriation
    5         to compensate Mr. Dillon for his wrongful
    6         incarceration; directing the Chief Financial Officer
    7         to draw a warrant for the purchase of an annuity;
    8         providing for a waiver of certain tuition and fees;
    9         providing conditions for payment; providing that the
   10         act does not waive certain defenses or increase the
   11         state’s liability; providing a limitation on the
   12         payment of fees and costs; providing an effective
   13         date.
   15         WHEREAS, William Dillon was wrongfully convicted of first
   16  degree murder and imprisoned for 27 years, and
   17         WHEREAS, even though the current State Attorney, an
   18  assistant public defender at the time of Mr. Dillon’s
   19  conviction, publicly stated that dog scent evidence should be
   20  banned because it had not “reached the level of reasonable
   21  scientific credibility,” the State of Florida allowed a
   22  discredited dog handler to provide false and implausible
   23  testimony improperly connecting William Dillon to the murder,
   24  and
   25         WHEREAS, the same dog handler provided false testimony
   26  against Juan Ramos and Wilton Dedge, and
   27         WHEREAS, in exchange for dismissal of a charge of sexual
   28  battery on a child, a jailhouse informant manufactured false
   29  testimony against William Dillon which improperly connected him
   30  to the murder, and
   31         WHEREAS, a key witness, after having sexual relations with
   32  the lead investigating detective, was threatened with excessive
   33  incarceration unless she falsely implicated William Dillon in
   34  the murder, and
   35         WHEREAS, the Circuit Court in the Eighteenth Judicial
   36  Circuit granted the state’s motion to discharge William Dillon
   37  from custody based on DNA evidence that excluded William Dillon
   38  as the perpetrator of the crime, and
   39         WHEREAS, William Dillon was released on November 18, 2008,
   40  and
   41         WHEREAS, the Legislature acknowledges that the state’s
   42  system of justice yielded an imperfect result that had tragic
   43  consequences in this case, and
   44         WHEREAS, William Dillon was subjected to severe physical
   45  and sexual abuse during his wrongful incarceration, and
   46         WHEREAS, William Dillon incurred severe and permanent
   47  dental damage as a result of a lack of dental care while
   48  incarcerated, and
   49         WHEREAS, the Legislature acknowledges that, as a result of
   50  his conviction and physical confinement, William Dillon suffered
   51  significant damages that are unique to William Dillon and all of
   52  those damages are due to the fact that he was physically
   53  restrained and prevented from exercising the freedom to which
   54  all innocent citizens are entitled, and
   55         WHEREAS, William Dillon, before his wrongful conviction for
   56  the above-mentioned crime, pleaded guilty to a nonviolent felony
   57  when he was 19 years old, and
   58         WHEREAS, because of his prior felony conviction, William
   59  Dillon is ineligible for compensation for each year of wrongful
   60  incarceration under chapter 961, Florida Statutes, and
   61         WHEREAS, the Legislature is providing compensation to
   62  William Dillon to acknowledge the fact that he suffered
   63  significant damages that are unique to William Dillon and are
   64  the result of his physical restraint and deprivation of freedom,
   65  and
   66         WHEREAS, the Legislature is providing compensation to
   67  William Dillon based on a moral desire to acknowledge his
   68  undisputed and actual innocence, not in recognition of a
   69  constitutional right or violation, and
   70         WHEREAS, the compensation provided by this act is the sole
   71  compensation from the state for any and all present and future
   72  claims arising out of the factual situation in connection with
   73  William Dillon’s wrongful conviction and incarceration, and
   74         WHEREAS, the Legislature apologizes to William Dillon on
   75  behalf of the state, NOW, THEREFORE,
   77  Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida:
   79         Section 1. The facts stated in the preamble to this act are
   80  found and declared to be true.
   81         Section 2. The sum of $1.35 million is appropriated from
   82  the General Revenue Fund to the Department of Financial Services
   83  under the conditions provided in this act, to be calculated at
   84  $50,000 per year for each year in prison, plus back interest,
   85  compounded annually at the prevailing rate from the beginning of
   86  William Dillon’s wrongful incarceration, and any additional
   87  damages for physical harm incurred during the wrongful
   88  incarceration as determined by the Special Master.
   89         Section 3. The Chief Financial Officer is directed to draw
   90  a warrant in the total sum specified in section 2 for the
   91  purposes provided in this act.
   92         Section 4. The Department of Financial Services shall pay
   93  the funds appropriated under this act to an insurance company or
   94  other financial institution admitted and authorized to issue
   95  annuity contracts in this state and selected by William Dillon
   96  to purchase an annuity. The Department of Financial Services
   97  shall execute all necessary agreements to implement this act.
   98         Section 5. Tuition and fees for William Dillon shall be
   99  waived for up to a total of 120 hours of instruction at any
  100  career center established pursuant to s. 1001.44, Florida
  101  Statutes, community college established under part III of
  102  chapter 1004, Florida Statutes, or state university. For any
  103  educational benefit made, William Dillon must meet and maintain
  104  the regular admission requirements of, and be registered at,
  105  such career center, community college, or state university and
  106  make satisfactory academic progress as defined by the
  107  educational institution in which he is enrolled.
  108         Section 6. The Chief Financial Officer shall purchase the
  109  annuity required by this act upon delivery by William Dillon to
  110  the Chief Financial Officer, the Department of Financial
  111  Services, the President of the Senate, and the Speaker of the
  112  House of Representatives of an executed release and waiver on
  113  behalf of William Dillon and his heirs, successors, and assigns
  114  forever releasing the State of Florida and any agency,
  115  instrumentality, officer, employee, or political subdivision
  116  thereof or any other entity subject to the provisions of s.
  117  768.28, Florida Statutes, from any and all present or future
  118  claims or declaratory relief that the claimant or any of his
  119  heirs, successors, or assigns may have against such enumerated
  120  entities and arising out of the factual situation in connection
  121  with the conviction for which compensation is awarded. However,
  122  this act does not prohibit declaratory action to obtain judicial
  123  expungement of William Dillon’s records within a judicial or
  124  executive branch agency as otherwise provided by law.
  125         Section 7. The Legislature by this act does not waive any
  126  defense of sovereign immunity or increase the limits of
  127  liability on behalf of the state or any person or entity that is
  128  subject to s. 768.28, Florida Statutes, or any other law.
  129         Section 8. This award is intended to provide the sole
  130  compensation for any and all present and future claims arising
  131  out of the factual situation in connection with William Dillon’s
  132  conviction and imprisonment. A further award for attorney’s
  133  fees, lobbying fees, costs, or other similar expenses may not be
  134  made by the state.
  135         Section 9. This act shall take effect upon becoming a law.