PA 08-143—sHB 5933

Judiciary Committee

Appropriations Committee

AN ACT CONCERNING THE COMPENSATION OF WRONGFULLY CONVICTED AND INCARCERATED PERSONS, THE DUTIES AND DURATION OF THE SENTENCING TASK FORCE AND THE PREPARATION OF RACIAL AND ETHNIC IMPACT STATEMENTS

SUMMARY: This act authorizes certain people convicted in state court and sentenced to a term of imprisonment to present a claim against the state with the claims commissioner for compensation for wrongful conviction. The act requires that they follow the procedures in place for filing a claim against the state.

The act requires the Advisory Commission on Wrongful Convictions to monitor and evaluate the implementation of (1) the procedure the act establishes for compensating wrongfully incarcerated persons; (2) the pilot program to electronically record interrogations of arrested persons; and (3) eyewitness identification procedures that, when practicable, use a double-blind administration. The act specifies that a double-blind administration occurs when the person conducting the identification procedure is not aware of which person in the photo or live lineup is suspected as being the perpetrator of the crime. The commission must report its findings and recommendations to the Judiciary Committee by January 7, 2009.

The act also requires that beginning with the 2009 session of the General Assembly, a racial and ethnic impact statement be prepared for certain bills and amendments that could, if passed, increase or decrease the pretrial or sentenced prison population. It also requires that by January 1, 2009, the Judiciary Committee recommend a joint legislative rule on the procedure for preparing the statements, their content, and the types of acts and amendments for which they should be prepared.

Finally, the act extends the reporting deadline for the Connecticut Sentencing Task Force from December 1, 2008 to July 1, 2009. It also requires the task force to recommend, by January 7, 2009, whether to establish a permanent sentencing commission and, if so, the permanent commission's mission, duties, membership, and procedures. The 28-member task force was established in 2006 to review the state's criminal justice and sentencing policies.

EFFECTIVE DATE: October 1, 2008, except for the provisions concerning the sentencing task force and the racial and ethnic impact statements, which take effect on passage.

COMPENSATION FOR THE WRONGFULLY CONVICTED

Scope of Law

The act applies only to those:

1. who served all or part of their sentence;

2. who were innocent of the crime or crimes of which they were convicted; and

3. whose convictions were vacated or reversed and whose cases were dismissed on grounds of innocence, or on a ground consistent with innocence.

Burden and Standard of Proof

The act gives the person filing the claim the burden of establishing, by a preponderance of the evidence, to the claims commissioner that he or she meets the act's eligibility requirements. In addition, the act requires the claimant to present evidence of damages arising from, or related to, the claimant's arrest, prosecution, conviction, and incarceration. If the claims commissioner determines, by a preponderance of the evidence, that the claimant is eligible, he must order the immediate payment of compensation for the wrongful incarceration.

The act specifies factors the commissioner must consider when determining the amount of compensation and additional amounts he may award for certain training and other specified services.

Deadline for Filing Claims

The act requires people to file any claim based on a pre-October 1, 2008 pardon or dismissal by September 30, 2010. They must file any claim based on a pardon or dismissal that occurred on or after October 1, 2008 within two years after the pardon or dismissal.

Damages

The act specifies that the evidence of damages that the claimant presents may include claims for:

1. loss of liberty and enjoyment of life, earnings and earning capacity, familial relationships, and reputation;

2. physical pain and suffering;

3. mental pain and suffering; and

4. attorney's fees and other expenses arising from or related to the arrest, prosecution, conviction, and incarceration.

Amount of Compensation Awarded

In determining the amount of compensation, the claims commissioner must consider relevant factors, including: (1) the evidence the claimant presented concerning the damages he or she suffered and (2) whether any negligence or misconduct by any officer, agent, employee, or official of the state or any political subdivision of the state contributed to the person's arrest, prosecution, conviction, or incarceration.

The act authorizes the commissioner to pay additional amounts for any other services a wrongfully convicted person may need to facilitate his or her reintegration into the community, including:

1. the expenses of employment, training , and counseling and

2. tuition and fees at any constituent unit of the state system of higher education.

Other Remedies

The act specifies that it may not be interpreted to prevent someone from pursuing any other action or that he or she may have against the state and any political subdivision of the state and any officer, agent, employee, or official arising out of the wrongful conviction and incarceration.

BACKGROUND

Claims Commissioner

Generally, the law requires those who wish to sue the state, or to present a claim against it, to file a claim with the claims commissioner unless their case falls within an exception established by law. They must file their claim with the commissioner within one year after it accrues. A claim accrues on the date the damage or injury is sustained or discovered or, in the exercise of reasonable care, should have been discovered. But, the law requires that the claim be submitted within three years after the date of the act or event that allegedly caused the damages (CGS 4-148).

Advisory Commission on Wrongful Convictions

The chief court administrator established an advisory commission to review any criminal or juvenile case involving a wrongful conviction and recommend reforms to lessen the likelihood of a similar wrongful conviction occurring in the future. The advisory commission consists of the chief state's attorney, the chief public defender, and the victim advocate, or their designees; a representative from the Connecticut Police Chiefs Association; a representative from the Connecticut Bar Association; and representatives from one or more Connecticut law schools or institutions of higher education that offer undergraduate programs in criminal justice and forensic science (CGS 54-102pp).

Related Laws

SA 07-5 required the comptroller to pay James Calvin Tillman $5 million as full and final settlement of all claims he has against the state; any political subdivision of the state; and any state or local officer, agent, employee, or official, arising out of, or in any way related to, his arrest, prosecution, conviction, and incarceration from 1988 to 2006 for the crimes of kidnapping and sexual assault, which he did not commit. It exempted any payment he receives under the act from the state income tax. PA 07-04, June Special Session specified that this settlement is also exempt from claims or liens for incarceration costs that the law authorizes the state to recover from inmates.

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