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Judge clears way for $4.5 million settlement

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A U.S. District magistrate judge granted a joint motion Sept. 2 to vacate a jury verdict in favor of a man wrongfully imprisoned for rape, allowing a settlement reached between the man and the city of Hammond to be approved.

The parties in Larry Mayes v. City of Hammond, Indiana, et al., No. 2:03-CV-379-PRC, reached a settlement of $4.5 million in March and asked that the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals vacate summary judgment and a jury verdict awarding Larry Mayes $9 million after DNA evidence exonerated him from committing a 1980 rape.

The 7th Circuit denied the motion to vacate and remanded to the District Court to allow it to inform the appellate court if it would vacate the judgment and jury verdict. On Aug. 15, Magistrate Judge Paul R. Cherry of the Northern District of Indiana's Hammond Division issued an opinion advising the 7th Circuit that the court was inclined to grant the joint request of the parties to vacate the jury verdict and judgment to allow for the settlement. The 7th Circuit remanded the appeal of the case to the District Court to allow for the magistrate judge to vacate the judgment and jury verdict.

Mayes spent 21 years in the Indiana State Prison in Michigan City. With the help of Indiana University School of Law - Indianapolis' Criminal Defense Clinic, he was released in 2001 after the court granted a petition filed by students requesting DNA testing in his case.

For more about this story, check out the Sept. 17-30, 2008, edition of Indiana Lawyer.

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