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California Pays Innocent Prisoner $328,000 for Nine Years in Prison

by John E. Dannenberg

For only the twelfth time since 1981, California paid a wrongfully imprisoned person for his troubles. After serving nine years of a 27-life 1995 sentence for rape, a 38 year-old man was recently awarded $328,000 $100 for each day in prison.

Peter Rose was convicted in 1995 of kidnapping and raping a 13 year-old Lodi, California girl. However, using new DNA technology unavailable in 2004, his conviction was overturned. Rose filed an appeal with the Victim Compensation and Government Claims Board, where, under California Penal Code § 4903, his burden was to prove his innocence, show that he did nothing to lead to his arrest and that he suffered financially. The claim then had to be approved by the Legislature.

Roses pro bono San Francisco attorney, Ray Hasu, filed a 4-inch thick claim for his client, recalling the trial testimony of the victim who had identified Rose after her assault. At the time, the DNA technology did not exist to test the minute evidence of semen, but in June 2004, newer technology made it possible. The DNA now ruled out Rose. Rose used this to gain relief from the San Joaquin Superior Court and was released from Mule Creek State Prison in October, 2004. Roses successful claim is the first for the Northern California Innocence Project, part of the national Innocence Network. The Network consists of groups of law schools, journalism schools and public defenders offices who help to free innocent prisoners.

Susan Rutberg, director of the Northern California Innocence Project at Golden Gate University in San Francisco, said that she and Hasu had also asked for compensation for the 318 days Rose spent in county jail, when he was unable to raise $100,000 bail. But the Board denied the additional $31,800 claim based on state law which limits compensation to $100 per day from conviction. The attorneys are considering appealing to the state Legislature to broaden the law, even though Rose could not benefit from it.

Source: Sacramento Bee.

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