Michigan's law on wrongful compensation is set to be changed

Wolf Mueller, a lawyer who has represented numerous claimants, states that the original law was poorly written.

March 29th 2024.

Michigan's law on wrongful compensation is set to be changed
Michigan's Wrongful Compensation Act is currently undergoing some much-needed changes after 15 Democratic senators introduced a bill to the Michigan House of Representatives. The current eligibility requirements for receiving compensation under the act have left many deserving individuals out of the conversation, as reported by ProPublica. One of these individuals is Marvin Cotton Jr., who had his murder conviction overturned in 2020. He shared his experience with ProPublica, stating that after fighting for years to prove his innocence, he now has to continue fighting for recognition and compensation.

Attorney Wolf Mueller, who has represented multiple individuals seeking compensation, believes that the original law was poorly written. He argues that if someone should not have been tried in the first place due to insufficient evidence, they should still be eligible for compensation. In his words, they are just as wrongfully convicted as someone who is fortunate enough to find new evidence. The proposed changes to the law, supported by assistant attorney general Robyn Frankel, would be beneficial for those who have been wrongfully convicted.

During a hearing on the proposed changes, Frankel explained that removing the requirement for new evidence to be the reason for a dismissal was based on the realization that specific explanations are not always provided when a case is dismissed. Representative Joey Andrews, the main sponsor of the bill, is hopeful that more representatives, including Republicans, will support it. However, Kenneth Nixon, co-founder and president of the Organization of Exonerees, a nonprofit, believes that the legislation should go even further.

In a letter to the committee, Nixon argued for the bill to be applied retroactively and for a two-year window for potential claims to be brought forward. He also advocated for the amount awarded to be adjusted for inflation. Mueller agrees with the sentiment of Nixon's letter, stating that compensation is not just life-changing in terms of money, but also in terms of dignity. It shows that someone recognizes the wrong that has been done and wants to make it right.

In related news, CJ Rice, who was recently freed after his wrongful conviction was overturned, is now determined to help others who have been wrongfully convicted. His story serves as a reminder of the importance of continuously improving and reassessing our justice system to ensure that innocent individuals are not wrongfully punished.

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