Florida Senate - 2023 SB 26 By Senator Rouson 16-00100A-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.