Sunday, January 11, 2009

When local governments have to pay for wrongful convictions

Scott Cobb of TMN mentions the 2003 case where the Austin City Council settled lawsuits for more than 14 million dollars in the cases of two men wrongfully convicted of murder. According to Cobb,
If Texas city councils do not start considering the broken death penalty system a matter for local governments, then more and more local taxpayers in Texas will have to foot the bill for these type of lawsuits.
In a similar case, Associated Press is reporting that the city of New Orleans might need to file for bankruptcy because it cannot afford to pay $15 million to a man who spent 18 years on death row before being exonerated.
The district attorney, Leon Cannizzaro, has asked for state authority to file for bankruptcy over the jury award to the former inmate, John Thompson, who was convicted in 1985 of killing a hotel executive, Raymond Liuzza Jr. Mr. Cannizzaro said his office would exhaust its appeals before deciding whether a Chapter 9 bankruptcy filing was necessary.
Last month, Texas Students Against the Death Penalty, Texas Moratorium Network and several members of the Austin Human Rights Commission met with aides to two Austin City Council members and asked them to help us pass a death penalty moratorium resolution. The death penalty is an issues that directly affects local governments and as the above cases display, it could take away huge amounts of money that the city needs during these troubling economic times to provide basic services.

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