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. 14 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, 76 77 Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida: 78 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.