McMillan was convicted after the victim identified him in a police line up. Throughout his imprisonment, McMillan maintained his innocence. His challenges to the line up were unsuccessful.
Gov. Phil Bredesen exonerated McMillan in August 31, 2004, after unanimous recommendation of the State Board of Probation and Parole for the exoneration. As a result, the criminal records are expunged and McMillan's full citizenship rights are restored. It's as much a cleaning of the slate as the legal process affords," said Rob Briley, the Nashville attorney representing McMillan. After the exoneration, the State Board of Claims made a unanimous decision to make its first award for wrongful imprisonment in two decades. Briley sought the maximum allowable award of $1 million. You can never put a dollar figure on what he's been through," said Briley.
The Board of Claims based its award of $832,456 on McMillan's earning potential. Assuming McMillan, who had limited education and job skills, earned minimum wage at 40 hours a week, his lost wages would total $185,000. The Board then calculated a pain and suffering award by multiplying that total by 3.5 and added the $185,000 to that amount.
While Shelby County District Attorney Bill Gibbons did not oppose the exoneration, he tried to dispute the award by telling the Board of Claims his office did not pursue three charges of aggravated rape, five burglary charges, and four charges of robbery with a deadly weapon after McMillan's 1980 conviction.
McMillan received a lump-sum payment of $250,000. The rest of the money will be put in an annuity that draws dividends. After McMillan's death, the annuity is assigned to his designated heirs. Of particular merit is the work of Briley, who represented McMillan for no charge and will receive no money for his time or costs.
Sources: The Tennessean; Associated Press.
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