2002 Regular Session
By: Senator(s) Jackson
AN ACT TO PROVIDE CIVIL COMPENSATION FOR AN ERRONEOUS CONVICTION; TO ENACT CONDITIONS FOR COMPENSATION; TO PRESCRIBE REQUIREMENTS FOR PROCEEDINGS HEREUNDER; TO ESTABLISH A BURDEN OF PROOF; TO ELIMINATE DEFENSES; TO PRESCRIBE EVIDENTIARY STANDARDS; TO PRESCRIBE DAMAGES AND ENACT LIMITATIONS; AND FOR RELATED PURPOSES.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI:
SECTION 1. Any person who, having been convicted of a felony in a court of this state and having been imprisoned therefor in this state, and who was thereafter or who shall hereafter be granted a pardon of innocence by the Governor or who shall have been exonerated on post-conviction relief upon the grounds that the crime with which the person was charged either was not committed at all or was not committed by that person, may as hereinafter provided institute or bring a claim against the State for the pecuniary loss sustained by the person through his erroneous conviction and imprisonment, provided the action therefor is filed within one (1) year of the granting of the pardon. A person may also file for compensation under this act who has not been pardoned, but who has discovered evidence exculpating the person from guilt for the crime for which convicted, as provided in this act.
SECTION 2. (1) A person is entitled to compensation under this act if the person:
(a) Has served in whole or in part a sentence in prison under the laws of this state;
(b) Pleaded "not guilty" to the charge for which he has been convicted and that led to the imprisonment; and
(c) Is not guilty of the crime for which he was sentenced by virtue of being adjudicated not guilty by a court of law, or has been pardoned; or
(2) Is determined by a court of competent jurisdiction not to have committed the crime of which convicted on the basis of new scientific evidence such as DNA analysis or newly discovered evidence.
SECTION 3. (1) A person may bring a suit against the state under this act, and the state's immunity from the suit is waived to the extent provided by this act.
(2) The suit must be initiated by a verified petition alleging that the petitioner is entitled to compensation.
(3) The suit shall be brought in the circuit or chancery court of the county of the petitioner's residence at the time the suit is commenced or in the circuit or chancery court of the First Judicial District of Hinds County.
(4) Service shall be had on the state by serving the Attorney General who shall represent the state in the proceeding.
SECTION 4. The petitioner must establish by a preponderance of the evidence that he is entitled to compensation and the amount of compensation to which he is entitled.
SECTION 5. The following are not defenses to an action brought under this act:
(a) The judgment of conviction in the trial that resulted in the claimant's imprisonment; nor
(b) An indictment, information, complaint, or other formal accusation.
SECTION 6. (1) In any suit under this act, the court may admit as evidence the record of the trial at which the petitioner was convicted and the pardon or proclamation issued to him by the Governor or the order exonerating the petitioner upon action in a court of law on post-trial proceedings.
(2) The court may also admit all court papers, orders, docket notations, or other writings of record in any court in this state as proof of the facts set forth in the writings.
SECTION 7. (1) If the jury or the judge in a nonjury trial finds that the claimant is entitled to compensation, the jury or judge shall assess damages to compensate the claimant fairly and reasonably for:
(a) Physical and mental pain and suffering sustained by him as a proximate result of the erroneous conviction or imprisonment from the time of the conviction by the trial court; (b) All reasonable and necessary medical expenses incurred by him as a proximate result of the erroneous conviction or imprisonment from the time of the conviction by the trial court; and
(c) Legal, expert witness and other fees associated with prosecuting an appeal, petition for reversal or other post-conviction relief based on scientific evidence such as DNA analysis or other newly discovered evidence.
(2) Damages assessed for physical and mental pain and suffering may not exceed Twenty-five Thousand Dollars ($25,000.00). Total damages assessed under this act may not exceed Fifty Thousand Dollars ($50,000.00) per erroneous conviction. Separate counts arising from a single criminal act or course of action shall constitute one conviction.
SECTION 8. A person who claims compensation must bring the action within one (1) year after:
(a) The person ceased serving the sentence of imprisonment;
(b) The person was released from custody;
(c) The person discovered or should have discovered the evidence substantiating his innocence, whichever is later; or
(d) The person is pardoned or exonerated by a court of law for the crime.
SECTION 9. This act shall take effect and be in force from and after July 1, 2002.