WisBar News: Appeals Court Reverses Decision Denying Compensation for Wrongful Imprisonment:

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  • WisBar News
    May
    23
    2012

    Appeals Court Reverses Decision Denying Compensation for Wrongful Imprisonment

    Joe Forward
    Legal Writer

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    May 23, 2012 – A Milwaukee man convicted of prostitution, and later exonerated, will soon be compensated for the time he spent in jail, under a recent decision by a state appeals court.

    Appeals Court Reverses Decision Denying Compensation for Wrongful Imprisonment

    A Milwaukee man will get equitable compensation for time spent in jail based on a conviction for prostitution that was not supported by any evidence.

    By org jforward wisbar Joe Forward, Legal Writer, State Bar of Wisconsin

    Appeals Court Reverses Decision Denying 
Compensation for Wrongful 
Imprisonment May 23, 2012 – A Milwaukee man convicted of prostitution, and later exonerated, will soon be compensated for the time he spent in jail, under a recent decision by a state appeals court.

    The state charged David Turnpaugh under Wis. Stat. section 944.30(1), which makes it a class A misdemeanor to offer or request sexual intercourse in exchange for anything of value, claiming Turnpaugh violated this statute by propositioning an undercover police officer.

    The undercover cop testified that Turnpaugh told her he was looking for sex and wanted to watch her engage in self-pleasuring activity. A jury convicted him on the prostitution charge.

    But an appeals court reversed the conviction as a matter of law, finding no evidence in the trial record to support the crime charged. That is, the appeals court found no evidence to support the charge that Turnpaugh solicited sexual intercourse for money. 

    Turnpaugh then filed a claim under Wis. Stat section 775.05, which allows innocent persons who have been convicted of crimes to obtain equitable compensation up to $5,000 per year of imprisonment, not exceeding $25,000.

    The Wisconsin Claims Board denied Turnpaugh’s claim and the circuit court for Milwaukee County upheld the board’s decision. But in Turnpaugh v. Wisconsin Claims Board, 2011AP2365 (May 22, 2012)(recommended for publication), the District I appeals court reversed.

    Under section 775.05(3), the Claims Board must find “either that the evidence is clear and convincing that the petitioner was innocent of the crime for which he or she suffered imprisonment, or that the evidence is not clear and convincing that he or she was innocent.”

    The Claims Board found that Turnpaugh did not present clear and convincing evidence that he was innocent, ignoring the appeals court decision that found him innocent as a matter of law.

    “The Claims Board’s finding to the contrary is inexplicable,” wrote Judge Ralph Fine for the three-judge panel. “[T]here was no evidence in support of his conviction, and he was innocent as a matter of law.”

    For his 60-day sentence, Turnpaugh spent three days in jail and 57 days on electronic monitoring. But the Claims Board also found that Turnpaugh was not “imprisoned” as that term is used in the statute that grants compensation to innocent persons who are imprisoned.

    “Even giving the Claims Board the highest level of deference, this conclusion flies in the face of the statute,” wrote Judge Fine. Thus, the three-judge panel remanded the case to the Claims Board for an assessment of Turnpaugh’s equitable compensation.