Florida Senate - 2024                               (NP)    SB 6
       By Senator Jones
       34-00070-24                                              20246__
    1                        A bill to be entitled                      
    2         An act for the relief of Sidney Holmes; providing an
    3         appropriation to compensate Mr. Holmes for being
    4         wrongfully incarcerated for 34 years; directing the
    5         Chief Financial Officer to draw a warrant payable
    6         directly to Mr. Holmes; requiring the Chief Financial
    7         Officer to pay the directed funds without requiring
    8         Mr. Holmes to sign a liability release; providing for
    9         the waiver of certain tuition and fees for Mr. Holmes;
   10         declaring that the Legislature does not waive certain
   11         defenses or increase the state’s limits of liability
   12         with respect to the act; prohibiting funds awarded
   13         under the act to Mr. Holmes from being used or paid
   14         for attorney or lobbying fees; prohibiting Mr. Holmes
   15         from submitting a compensation application under
   16         certain provisions upon his receipt of payment under
   17         the act; requiring Mr. Holmes to reimburse the state
   18         under certain circumstances; requiring Mr. Holmes to
   19         notify the Department of Legal Affairs upon filing
   20         certain civil actions; requiring the department to
   21         file a specified notice under certain circumstances;
   22         providing that certain benefits are void upon
   23         specified findings; providing an effective date.
   25         WHEREAS, Sidney Holmes was arrested on October 6, 1988, for
   26  a June 19, 1988, robbery outside of a convenience store in Fort
   27  Lauderdale and was convicted on April 26, 1989, of armed robbery
   28  with a firearm, and
   29         WHEREAS, since the time of his arrest, Mr. Holmes has been
   30  unwavering in maintaining his innocence in connection with the
   31  crime, and
   32         WHEREAS, Mr. Holmes, who had previous felony convictions,
   33  was sentenced to 400 years in prison and served 34 years of that
   34  sentence, and
   35         WHEREAS, on February 23, 2023, the Conviction Review Unit
   36  for the State Attorney’s Office for the 17th Judicial Circuit
   37  issued a 25-page “Conviction Review Unit Final Memorandum,”
   38  reaching the conclusion that Mr. Holmes’ judgment and sentence
   39  should be vacated and that the State Attorney’s Office should
   40  enter a nolle prosequi, and
   41         WHEREAS, the final memorandum was issued based on the
   42  findings of the Independent Review Panel that the case against
   43  Mr. Holmes gave rise to reasonable doubt as to his culpability
   44  and noted that it was highly likely that Mr. Holmes is factually
   45  innocent of the armed robbery and the Broward County State
   46  Attorney’s Office would not charge Mr. Holmes if the case were
   47  presented today, and
   48         WHEREAS, on March 13, 2023, the Circuit Court for the 17th
   49  Judicial Circuit issued, with the concurrence of the state, an
   50  Agreed Order Vacating Judgment and Sentence on the basis that
   51  there is reasonable doubt as to Mr. Holmes’ guilt in the case
   52  and that it is highly likely that he was misidentified and is
   53  factually innocent of the armed robbery, and
   54         WHEREAS, that same day, the state filed a Notice of Nolle
   55  Prosequi, and Mr. Holmes was exonerated, and
   56         WHEREAS, the Legislature acknowledges that the state’s
   57  system of justice yielded an imperfect result that had tragic
   58  consequences in this case, and
   59         WHEREAS, the Legislature acknowledges that as a result of
   60  his physical confinement Mr. Holmes suffered significant damages
   61  that are unique to him, and that the damages are due to the fact
   62  that he was physically restrained and prevented from exercising
   63  the freedom to which all innocent citizens are entitled, and
   64         WHEREAS, before his conviction for the aforementioned
   65  crimes, Mr. Holmes had prior convictions for unrelated felonies,
   66  and
   67         WHEREAS, because of his prior felony convictions, Mr.
   68  Holmes is ineligible for compensation under chapter 961, Florida
   69  Statutes, and
   70         WHEREAS, the Legislature apologizes to Mr. Holmes on behalf
   71  of the state, NOW, THEREFORE,
   73  Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida:
   75         Section 1. The facts stated in the preamble to this act are
   76  found and declared to be true.
   77         Section 2. The sum of $1.722 million is appropriated from
   78  the General Revenue Fund to the Department of Financial Services
   79  for the relief of Sidney Holmes for his wrongful incarceration.
   80  The Chief Financial Officer is directed to draw a warrant in
   81  favor of Mr. Holmes in the sum of $1.722 million, payable
   82  directly to Sidney Holmes.
   83         Section 3. The Chief Financial Officer shall pay the funds
   84  directed by this act without requiring that Mr. Holmes sign a
   85  liability release.
   86         Section 4. Tuition and fees for Mr. Holmes shall be waived
   87  for up to a total of 120 hours of instruction at any career
   88  center established under s. 1001.44, Florida Statutes, any
   89  Florida College System institution established under part III of
   90  chapter 1004, Florida Statutes, or any state university. For any
   91  educational benefit made, Mr. Holmes must meet and maintain the
   92  regular admission and registration requirements of such career
   93  center, institution, or state university and make satisfactory
   94  academic progress as defined by the educational institution in
   95  which he is enrolled.
   96         Section 5. With respect to the relief for Mr. Holmes as
   97  described in this act, the Legislature does not waive any
   98  defense of sovereign immunity or increase the limits of
   99  liability on behalf of the state or any person or entity that is
  100  subject to s. 768.28, Florida Statutes, or any other law. Funds
  101  awarded under this act to Mr. Holmes may not be used or be paid
  102  for attorney fees or lobbying fees related to this claim.
  103         Section 6. Upon his receipt of payment under this act, Mr.
  104  Holmes may not submit an application for compensation under
  105  chapter 961, Florida Statutes.
  106         Section 7. If, after monetary compensation is paid under
  107  this act, a court enters a monetary judgment in favor of Mr.
  108  Holmes in a civil action related to his wrongful incarceration,
  109  or Mr. Holmes enters into a settlement agreement with the state
  110  or any political subdivision thereof related to his wrongful
  111  incarceration, Mr. Holmes must reimburse the state for the
  112  monetary compensation awarded under this act. Such reimbursement
  113  may not exceed the amount of monetary award Mr. Holmes receives
  114  for damages in such civil action or settlement agreement, less
  115  any sums paid for attorney fees or costs incurred in litigating
  116  the civil action or obtaining the settlement agreement. The
  117  court must include in the order of judgment an award to the
  118  state of any amount required to be deducted pursuant to this
  119  act. Claimant Sidney Holmes shall notify the Department of Legal
  120  Affairs immediately upon filing any such civil action, after
  121  receipt of which the Department of Legal Affairs shall file a
  122  notice of payment of monetary compensation in the civil action.
  123  Such notice constitutes a lien upon any judgment or settlement
  124  recovered under the civil action in an amount equal to the sum
  125  of monetary compensation paid to the claimant under this act,
  126  less the specified attorney fees and costs.
  127         Section 8. If any future judicial determination concludes
  128  that Mr. Holmes, by DNA evidence or otherwise, participated in
  129  any manner in the armed robbery for which he was incarcerated,
  130  the unused benefits to which he is entitled under this act are
  131  void.
  132         Section 9. This act shall take effect upon becoming a law.