Florida Senate - 2023                               (NP)    SB 8
       By Senator Jones
       35-00092-23                                              20238__
    1                        A bill to be entitled                      
    2         An act for the relief of Leonard Cure; providing an
    3         appropriation to compensate Mr. Cure for being
    4         wrongfully incarcerated for 16 years; directing the
    5         Chief Financial Officer to draw a warrant payable
    6         directly to Mr. Cure; requiring the Chief Financial
    7         Officer to pay the directed funds without requiring
    8         that Mr. Cure sign a liability release; providing for
    9         the waiver of certain tuition and fees for Mr. Cure;
   10         declaring that the Legislature does not waive certain
   11         defenses or increase the state’s limits of liability
   12         with respect to this act; prohibiting funds awarded
   13         under this act to Mr. Cure from being used or paid for
   14         attorney or lobbying fees; prohibiting Mr. Cure from
   15         submitting a compensation application under certain
   16         provisions upon his receipt of payment under this act;
   17         requiring specific reimbursement to the state should a
   18         civil award be issued subsequent to Mr. Cure’s receipt
   19         of payment under this act; requiring Mr. Cure to
   20         notify the Department of Legal Affairs upon filing
   21         certain civil actions; requiring the department to
   22         file a specified notice under certain circumstances;
   23         providing that certain benefits are vacated upon
   24         specified findings; providing an effective date.
   26         WHEREAS, Leonard Cure was arrested on November 20, 2003,
   27  for the November 10, 2003, robbery of a Dania Beach Walgreens
   28  drug store and was convicted on November 3, 2004, of armed
   29  robbery with a firearm and aggravated assault with a firearm,
   30  and
   31         WHEREAS, Mr. Cure was sentenced to life imprisonment and
   32  spent 16 years incarcerated, and
   33         WHEREAS, Mr. Cure has maintained his innocence since his
   34  arrest and for the entirety of his incarceration, and
   35         WHEREAS, on April 2, 2020, the Conviction Review Unit for
   36  the State Attorney’s Office for the 17th Judicial Circuit issued
   37  a 14-page “Conviction Review Unit Memorandum” recommending the
   38  modification of Mr. Cure’s sentence to allow for his immediate
   39  release while the Conviction Review Unit investigated Mr. Cure’s
   40  case, and
   41         WHEREAS, on April 14, 2020, the Circuit Court for the 17th
   42  Judicial Circuit modified Mr. Cure’s sentence to time served,
   43  and Mr. Cure was released, and
   44         WHEREAS, on October 16, 2020, the Conviction Review Unit
   45  for the State Attorney’s Office for the 17th Judicial Circuit
   46  issued a “Conviction Review Unit Addendum Memorandum with
   47  Independent Review Panel’s Findings” reaching the conclusion
   48  that the court should “vacate the defendant’s judgment and
   49  sentence and enter a nolle prosequi as to both counts” due to
   50  the finding by the Independent Review Panel that “the case
   51  against Mr. Cure is so weak that it gives rise to a reasonable
   52  doubt as to his culpability, and that he is most likely
   53  innocent,” and
   54         WHEREAS, on December 11, 2020, the Circuit Court for the
   55  17th Judicial Circuit issued, with the concurrence of the state,
   56  an “Agreed Order Vacating Judgment and Sentence” on the basis
   57  that Mr. Cure “is most likely innocent,” and
   58         WHEREAS, on December 14, 2020, as the result of the
   59  Conviction Review Unit report, the state filed a notice of nolle
   60  prosequi, and Mr. Cure was exonerated, and
   61         WHEREAS, the Legislature acknowledges that the state’s
   62  system of justice yielded an imperfect result that had tragic
   63  consequences in this case, and
   64         WHEREAS, the Legislature acknowledges that, as a result of
   65  his physical confinement, Mr. Cure suffered significant damages
   66  that are unique to him, and that the damages are due to the fact
   67  that he was physically restrained and prevented from exercising
   68  the freedom to which all innocent citizens are entitled, and
   69         WHEREAS, before his conviction for the aforementioned
   70  crimes, Mr. Cure had prior convictions for unrelated felonies,
   71  and
   72         WHEREAS, due to his prior felony convictions, Mr. Cure is
   73  ineligible for compensation under chapter 961, Florida Statutes,
   74  and
   75         WHEREAS, the Legislature apologizes to Mr. Cure on behalf
   76  of the state, NOW, THEREFORE,
   78  Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida:
   80         Section 1. The facts stated in the preamble to this act are
   81  found and declared to be true.
   82         Section 2. The sum of $817,000 is appropriated from the
   83  General Revenue Fund to the Department of Financial Services for
   84  the relief of Leonard Cure for his wrongful incarceration. The
   85  Chief Financial Officer is directed to draw a warrant in favor
   86  of Mr. Cure in the sum of $817,000 payable directly to Leonard
   87  Cure.
   88         Section 3. The Chief Financial Officer shall pay the funds
   89  directed by this act without requiring that the wrongfully
   90  incarcerated person, Mr. Cure, sign a liability release.
   91         Section 4. Tuition and fees for Mr. Cure shall be waived
   92  for up to a total of 120 hours of instruction at any career
   93  center established pursuant to s. 1001.44, Florida Statutes, any
   94  Florida College System institution established under part III of
   95  chapter 1004, Florida Statutes, or any state university. For any
   96  educational benefit made, Mr. Cure must meet and maintain the
   97  regular admission and registration requirements of the career
   98  center, institution, or state university and make satisfactory
   99  academic progress as defined by the educational institution in
  100  which he is enrolled.
  101         Section 5. With respect to the relief for Mr. Cure as
  102  described in this act, the Legislature does not waive any
  103  defense of sovereign immunity or increase the limits of
  104  liability on behalf of the state or any person or entity that is
  105  subject to s. 768.28, Florida Statutes, or any other law. Funds
  106  awarded under this act to Mr. Cure may not be used or be paid
  107  for attorney fees or lobbying fees related to this claim.
  108         Section 6. Upon his receipt of payment under this act, Mr.
  109  Cure may not submit an application for compensation under
  110  chapter 961, Florida Statutes.
  111         Section 7. If, after the time that monetary compensation is
  112  paid under this act, a court enters a monetary judgment in favor
  113  of Mr. Cure in a civil action related to his wrongful
  114  incarceration, or Mr. Cure enters into a settlement agreement
  115  with the state or any political subdivision thereof related to
  116  his wrongful incarceration, Mr. Cure must reimburse the state
  117  for the monetary compensation awarded under this act, less any
  118  sums paid for attorney fees or costs incurred in litigating the
  119  civil action or obtaining the settlement agreement. The
  120  reimbursement required under this section may not exceed the
  121  amount of monetary award Mr. Cure receives for damages in the
  122  civil action or settlement agreement. The court must include in
  123  the order of judgment an award to the state of any amount
  124  required to be deducted under this section. Claimant Leonard
  125  Cure must notify the Department of Legal Affairs upon filing any
  126  such civil action.
  127         Section 8. The department must then file a notice of
  128  payment of monetary compensation in the civil action, and the
  129  notice shall constitute a lien upon any judgment or settlement
  130  recovered under the civil action which is equal to the sum of
  131  monetary compensation paid to the claimant under this act, less
  132  any attorney fees and litigation costs.
  133         Section 9. If any future judicial determination concludes
  134  that Mr. Cure, by DNA evidence or otherwise, participated in any
  135  manner in the armed robbery and aggravated assault for which he
  136  was incarcerated, the unused benefits to which he is entitled
  137  under this act are vacated.
  138         Section 10. This act shall take effect upon becoming a law.