Florida Senate - 2023                              (NP)    SB 26
       
       
        
       By Senator Rouson
       
       
       
       
       
       19-00100A-23                                            202326__
    1                        A bill to be entitled                      
    2         An act for the relief of Thomas Raynard James;
    3         providing an appropriation to compensate Mr. James for
    4         his wrongful incarceration for 32 years; directing the
    5         Chief Financial Officer to draw a warrant payable
    6         directly to Mr. James; declaring that the Legislature
    7         does not waive certain defenses or increase the
    8         state’s limits of liability with respect to the act;
    9         prohibiting Mr. James from submitting an application
   10         for certain compensation upon receipt of compensation
   11         under the act; requiring that Mr. James notify the
   12         Department of Legal Affairs upon filing certain civil
   13         actions; requiring specific reimbursement to the state
   14         under certain circumstances; requiring that the
   15         department file a notice of payment of monetary
   16         compensation in any such action; providing an
   17         effective date.
   18  
   19         WHEREAS, Thomas Raynard James was convicted on January 11,
   20  1991, of first-degree murder; armed robbery with a firearm;
   21  armed burglary of an occupied dwelling with a firearm and
   22  assault therein; and aggravated assault with a firearm for the
   23  murder of Francis McKinnon, which occurred on January 17, 1990,
   24  and
   25         WHEREAS, Mr. James had the same name as a suspect named by
   26  witnesses as “Thomas James” or “Tommy James,” which resulted in
   27  police putting a photograph of Mr. James in a photographic
   28  lineup and Mr. James’ mistaken identification, conviction, and
   29  wrongful incarceration, and
   30         WHEREAS, Mr. James’ appeals, motions, and petitions for
   31  collateral relief and his DNA testing requests were denied
   32  during his time in prison, and
   33         WHEREAS, Mr. James spent 32 years and 52 days wrongfully
   34  incarcerated, and
   35         WHEREAS, Mr. James has maintained his innocence since his
   36  arrest and throughout the entirety of his incarceration, and
   37         WHEREAS, a comprehensive investigation by the Miami-Dade
   38  County State Attorney’s Office Justice Project determined that
   39  reasonable doubt exists in Mr. James’ convictions and that he is
   40  innocent of all charges, 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, the Legislature is providing compensation to Mr.
   45  James to acknowledge the fact that he suffered significant
   46  damages that are unique to him, and
   47         WHEREAS, the Legislature apologizes to Mr. James on behalf
   48  of the state, NOW, THEREFORE,
   49  
   50  Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida:
   51  
   52         Section 1. The facts stated in the preamble to this act are
   53  found and declared to be true.
   54         Section 2. The sum of $1.6 million is appropriated from the
   55  General Revenue Fund to the Department of Financial Services for
   56  the relief of Thomas Raynard James for his wrongful
   57  incarceration. The Chief Financial Officer is directed to draw a
   58  warrant in favor of Thomas Raynard James in the sum of $1.6
   59  million payable directly to Thomas Raynard James.
   60         Section 3. With respect to this act, the Legislature does
   61  not waive any defense of sovereign immunity or increase the
   62  limits of liability on behalf of the state or any person or
   63  entity that is subject to s. 768.28, Florida Statutes, or any
   64  other law.
   65         Section 4. Upon his receipt of payment under this act,
   66  Thomas Raynard James is prohibited from submitting an
   67  application for compensation under chapter 961, Florida
   68  Statutes.
   69         Section 5. If, after the time that monetary compensation is
   70  paid under this act, Thomas Raynard James brings a civil action
   71  related to his wrongful incarceration, he must notify the
   72  Department of Legal Affairs upon filing the action. If a court
   73  enters a monetary judgment in favor of Thomas Raynard James in
   74  such a civil action, the court entering the monetary judgment
   75  must include in the final order of judgment an award to the
   76  state of any amount required to be deducted pursuant to this
   77  section. In the event of the entry of such judgment, or if
   78  Thomas Raynard James enters into a settlement agreement with the
   79  state or any political subdivision thereof to compensate him for
   80  his wrongful incarceration, Thomas Raynard James must reimburse
   81  the state for the monetary compensation awarded under this act,
   82  less any sums paid out of that amount for attorney fees or costs
   83  incurred in litigating the civil action or obtaining the
   84  settlement agreement, up to, but not exceeding, the full amount
   85  of such compensation. The Department of Legal Affairs must then
   86  file a notice of payment of monetary compensation in the civil
   87  action, which notice constitutes a lien upon any judgment or
   88  settlement recovered under the civil action which is equal to
   89  the sum of monetary compensation paid to the claimant under this
   90  act, less any attorney fees and litigation costs.
   91         Section 6. This act shall take effect upon becoming a law.