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Board denies three innocent conviction claims

A state board has denied three requests for innocent conviction compensation.

The Wisconsin Claims Board rejected claims of two Milwaukee men and a man from Burnett County. All three men were asking for compensation for time they had spent in prison for charges that had later been dismissed. The board is authorized to issue that sort of compensation.

Marvin Clements, a Milwaukee resident, requested $40,000 in compensation for the nine months he spent in prison plus three years on probation.

He was charged in 1999 with two counts of knowingly violating a restraining order and one count of misdemeanor bail jumping and was later convicted. Martin appealed, saying the court had incorrectly told jurors that it did not matter whether he had intentionally violated the restraining order, rather than doing it inadvertently.

An appeals court affirmed the bail-jumping conviction but threw out the other charges and ordered a retrial. The Milwaukee County District Attorney’s Office declined to retry the case because Clements had already served his full sentence for the convictions. Clements was released in 2000.

The Milwaukee District Attorney’s Office did not respond to Clement’s claim.

The board unanimously denied Clements’ claim Monday, saying that even though the appeals court’s remand of the restraining-order violations meant there was an error at trial, that was not enough to show he was innocent. In order to be compensated by the state for a wrongful conviction, a person’s innocence has to be proved with the use of “clear and convincing” evidence.

State officials on Monday also rejected Maurice Corbine’s request for $90,000 to compensate him for three years he spent in prison.

Corbine, who is from Webster, was convicted in 2011 of his fifth drunken driving offense and driving while his license was suspended and later sentenced to three years in prison and three years of probation. Corbine appealed the conviction in 2013, arguing that his trial lawyer had not met his obligation to investigate Sawyer County’s failure to produce a jailhouse video recording.

Corbine alleged the recording would have supported his defense that he had not been driving when he and his cousin were stopped by police in 2007, leading to the 2011 conviction. The court in 2015 reversed the convictions. Corbine, having served his entire sentence, was released the same day. Corbine argued to the board that the Sawyer County DA’s office intentionally withheld the recording, which would have proved his innocence.

State officials unanimously concluded Monday that they could not tell whether the evidence shows Corbine was innocent of the 2011 charges and ordered the Sawyer County District Attorney to respond to the claim.

The board also denied Raynard Jackson’s claim for $25,000 for the six years he spent in prison for his conviction on charges of possessing a firearm while being a felon, obstructing an officer and carrying a concealed weapon. The gun convictions were later dismissed after a court of appeals ordered a new trial because it found that Jackson’s lawyer at trial had provided ineffective assistance.

Jackson, a resident of Milwaukee, contends that the officers involved in his arrest fabricated the gun charges. One of the officers was federally charged with threatening to plant evidence in an unrelated case. Other cases involving the same officers have also seen convictions eventually dismissed.

The Milwaukee County District Attorney, however, argued that the charges against Jackson had not been dismissed because he had been found innocent.

The Claims Board on Monday unanimously denied Jackson’s claim, finding that the appeals court that invalidated the gun charges had done so because it found Jackson’s lawyer was ineffective, not that Jackson was innocent.

Moreover, as to Jackson’s allegations regarding the arresting officers, the board found them unconvincing largely because the main officer in his case continues to work for the Milwaukee Police Department and his credibility has never been questioned.

Compensation for the wrongly convicted has become a hot topic lately following the release earlier this year of the “Making a Murderer” documentary on Netflix. The series looked at the case of Steven Avery, who served 18 years in prison for sexual assault before he was exonerated. A few years after his release, Avery was convicted of first-degree intentional homicide and sentenced to life in prison in the 2005 death of photographer Teresa Halbach.

The Associated Press also contributed to this report.


About Erika Strebel, erika.strebel@wislawjournal.com

Erika Strebel is the law beat reporter for the Wisconsin Law Journal and a law school student at UW-Madison. She can be reached at 414-225-1825.

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