Tag Archive: lawsuits

2 Men Awarded $750,000 for Wrongful Convictions in 1983 Murder

From The New York Times

DURHAM, N.C. — One year to the day after a North Carolina judge threw out their wrongful murder convictions, a state commission awarded $750,000 each as compensation to two half-brothers who spent three decades in prison, much of it on death row.

Patrick M. Megaro, the recently hired lawyer for the men, Henry Lee McCollum, 51, and Leon Brown, 47, announced the settlement. Mr. Megaro also filed a federal lawsuit against government and law enforcement officials of Robeson County, N.C., for obtaining their convictions through “fraud, perjury, coercion, the willful failure or refusal to investigate exculpatory evidence.”

A pardon by Gov. Pat McCrory of North Carolina in June made each man eligible for $50,000 a year in compensation from the state, up to $750,000 each. (Without a cap, the compensation for their full 31 years in prison would be more than double that amount.) The maximum was granted to each man on Wednesday by the North Carolina Industrial Commission, which oversees workers’ compensation and tort claims. (more…)

$2.5 Million Settlement Paid To Family Of Michael Kerr, Inmate Who Died Of Thirst In Solitary

From WRAL

— State officials will pay out a $2.5 million settlement to the family of a mentally ill prisoner who died of dehydration last year five days after he was left in handcuffs in solitary confinement.

Correctional officers found Michael Anthony Kerr dead on March 12, 2014, after transporting him from Alexander Correctional Institution in Taylorsville to Central Prison in Raleigh.

An Army veteran who suffered from schizoaffective disorder that went untreated for at least six months, Kerr was serving a 31-year sentence at Alexander Correctional for firing a weapon at private property and repeated felony convictions. He had been held in solitary confinement for more than a month before his death. (more…)

North Carolina: Inmates win settlement after they were forced to sit naked in jail cells

From Charlotte Observer

Two young offenders who contend they were forced to sit naked in their cells at the Alexander County jail have reached a legal settlement with the county.

Under the terms of the settlement, the county’s insurance company will pay former inmates Justin Helton and Austin Saddler $15,000 each, according to a source knowledgeable about the settlement.

The two were 16 in 2011 when they say they were forced to go naked for days at a time, sometimes in full view of adult inmates. They allege they were also deprived of their mattresses and their belongings as punishment for trying to tattoo themselves.

When they entered the hallway for meals and showers they contend they were forced to do so completely naked. Their allegations first became public in an Observer story published last year.

Wendy Greene, the Raleigh lawyer who represented the young men, contends that the punishment described by her clients “was not an isolated incident” at the jail in Taylorsville, 60 miles northwest of Charlotte.

(more…)

Supreme Court rules for Native American inmates in Alabama

Doug Dark Horns Bailey talks about trying to practice his religious beliefs during the more than 18 years he spent in prison.

Doug Dark Horns Bailey talks about trying to practice his religious beliefs during the more than 18 years he spent in prison.

From Montgomery Observer

The U.S. Supreme Court says a lower court must reconsider whether Native Americans in Alabama prisons can have longer hair.

The high court on Monday reversed an 11th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that had upheld an Alabama Department of Corrections policy saying Native American inmates had to keep their hair cut short, which Native Americans argue deny them their right to religious expression.

As is often the case, the justices did not issue an opinion with its ruling, but ordered the 11th Circuit to reconsider the decision in light of its ruling last week in Holt v. Hobbs. In that case, the court ruled that the Arkansas Department of Correction could not deny a Muslim inmate’s request to grow a half-inch beard in accordance with his religious beliefs, saying the state had failed to show a compelling reason to deny the request.

Bob Horton, a spokesman for ADOC, said in a statement that the decision was expected.

“Until the 11th Circuit has a hearing and offers a ruling, ADOC will continue to enforce its current policy,” the statement said.

(more…)