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Bill proposes monetary relief for exonoree

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A man recently released from prison after DNA evidence proved his innocence may receive $100,000 if one Indiana representative's bill passes.

Rep. Vern Tincher, D-Terre Haute, has proposed House Bill 1162 to provide relief to David. L. Scott, who went to prison after being convicted of murdering 89-year-old W. Terre Haute resident Loretta Keith in 1984.

According to news reports, Scott was convicted largely in part because of a taped admission he made saying he killed Keith. Scott, a special needs student, was 17 years old when he was sent to prison for 80 years. The Indiana Supreme Court upheld his conviction, but reduced his sentence to 50 years.

DNA evidence eventually cleared Scott and he was released from prison in 2008.

Scott's story came to the attention of Tincher after he received an e-mail from his local television station asking legislators what they could do for Scott. Tincher asked for an interim study committee on compensation for wrongful incarceration as well as expungement of someone's criminal history record when they are released from prison based on DNA evidence.

"We had our day with the policy sentencing commission and had several people testify," Tincher said. "They chose to take no action. I had a bill drafted that provides compensation to David Scott on humanitarian purposes."

The bill specifies that the $100,000 in relief is not payment of damages but is provided only for "humanitarian consideration for the wrongs done to David L. Scott." Tincher said the amount, which would come from the state general fund, is minimal compensation, but will allow him to get on with his life.

Tincher said 21 states, plus Washington, D.C., and the federal government have statutory laws addressing compensation for people who have been wrongfully convicted and incarcerated, but he decided to tailor this bill just for Scott instead of one that would generally compensate people wrongfully convicted. He did say he may pursue a bill like that in the future.

"I believe we are going to have more individuals released from incarceration based on DNA evidence," Tincher said. "Most cases, even as recent as 10 to 15 years ago, didn't have all the capabilities of testing DNA as they do now."

HB 1162 has been assigned to the House Committee on Public Policy. The Scott case also prompted Tincher to author HB 1163, which deals with expungement of a criminal history record for someone who has been released from prison based on DNA evidence. That bill is before the House Committee on Courts and Criminal Codes.

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  1. This law is troubling in two respects: First, why wasn't the law reviewed "with the intention of getting all the facts surrounding the legislation and its actual impact on the marketplace" BEFORE it was passed and signed? Seems a bit backwards to me (even acknowledging that this is the Indiana state legislature we're talking about. Second, what is it with the laws in this state that seem to create artificial monopolies in various industries? Besides this one, the other law that comes to mind is the legislation that governed the granting of licenses to firms that wanted to set up craft distilleries. The licensing was limited to only those entities that were already in the craft beer brewing business. Republicans in this state talk a big game when it comes to being "business friendly". They're friendly alright . . . to certain businesses.

  2. Gretchen, Asia, Roberto, Tonia, Shannon, Cheri, Nicholas, Sondra, Carey, Laura ... my heart breaks for you, reaching out in a forum in which you are ignored by a professional suffering through both compassion fatigue and the love of filthy lucre. Most if not all of you seek a warm blooded Hoosier attorney unafraid to take on the government and plead that government officials have acted unconstitutionally to try to save a family and/or rescue children in need and/or press individual rights against the Leviathan state. I know an attorney from Kansas who has taken such cases across the country, arguing before half of the federal courts of appeal and presenting cases to the US S.Ct. numerous times seeking cert. Unfortunately, due to his zeal for the constitutional rights of peasants and willingness to confront powerful government bureaucrats seemingly violating the same ... he was denied character and fitness certification to join the Indiana bar, even after he was cleared to sit for, and passed, both the bar exam and ethics exam. And was even admitted to the Indiana federal bar! NOW KNOW THIS .... you will face headwinds and difficulties in locating a zealously motivated Hoosier attorney to face off against powerful government agents who violate the constitution, for those who do so tend to end up as marginalized as Paul Odgen, who was driven from the profession. So beware, many are mere expensive lapdogs, the kind of breed who will gladly take a large retainer, but then fail to press against the status quo and powers that be when told to heel to. It is a common belief among some in Indiana that those attorneys who truly fight the power and rigorously confront corruption often end up, actually or metaphorically, in real life or at least as to their careers, as dead as the late, great Gary Welch. All of that said, I wish you the very best in finding a Hoosier attorney with a fighting spirit to press your rights as far as you can, for you do have rights against government actors, no matter what said actors may tell you otherwise. Attorneys outside the elitist camp are often better fighters that those owing the powers that be for their salaries, corner offices and end of year bonuses. So do not be afraid to retain a green horn or unconnected lawyer, many of them are fine men and woman who are yet untainted by the "unique" Hoosier system.

  3. I am not the John below. He is a journalist and talk show host who knows me through my years working in Kansas government. I did no ask John to post the note below ...

  4. "...not those committed in the heat of an argument." If I ever see a man physically abusing a woman or a child and I'm close enough to intercede I will not ask him why he is abusing her/him. I will give him a split second to cease his attack and put his hands in the air while I call the police. If he continues, I will still call the police but to report, "Man down with a gunshot wound,"instead.

  5. And so the therapeutic state is weaonized. How soon until those with ideologies opposing the elite are disarmed in the name of mental health? If it can start anywhere it can start in the hoosiers' slavishly politically correct capital city.

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