The City of Boston, Massachusetts, has agreed to pay $3.2 million to a man who spent 10 ½ years in prison for a rape he did not commit. The March 2006 settlement is believed to be the largest of its kind in state history.
Neil Millers nightmare began on November 15, 1989, when he was arrested for the brutal rape and robbery of a 19-year-old college student six weeks earlier. Miller was quickly convicted and sentenced to 10-25 years in prison. After his direct appeals were denied Miller contacted the Innocence Project, which successfully petitioned for post-conviction DNA testing of semen found on the victim's body and bed. The test proved Miller could not have been the perpetrator, and on May 10, 2000, he was freed. Following Miller's exoneration, the DNA was checked against a database of convicted sex offenders. The check implicated another man, Larry Taylor, who in 2005 pled guilty to three rapes, including the one for which Miller was convicted.
In a March 9, 2006, statement, Miller's attorneys, Howard Friedman and Innocence Project co-director Peter Neufeld, said testimony in their 2003 lawsuit showed that Boston police manipulated evidence in order to convict Miller. For instance, then-detective Margot Hill (now a deputy superintendent) ignored clearly exculpatory evidence, say the attorneys.
Whats more, criminologist David Brody--who retired as the crime labs director after 32 years--lied about the DNA evidence to make it appear more likely that Miller committed the crime.
Miller's attorneys are now calling for a reexamination of every case Brody participated in. These were not mistakes, Neufeld said. [Brody] was the head of the laboratory who testified more than 1,000 times who is caught in perjury. You have a duty to question all other cases. By the end of 2005 at least ten convictions in Suffolk County had been overturned, most through DNA testing.
Neufeld and Friedman had intended to argue at trial that the filing of false testimony and affidavits was rampant in the Boston Police Department. They also planned to show that the department's policies and procedures fostered the misconduct. Expert testimony would have been provided by Professor Gary Wells (identification), Dr. Edward Blake (serology), Steve Rothlein (police practices), and Dr. Jerome Rogoff (forensic psychiatry).
The $3.2 million settlement agreement was reached a week before the trial was set to begin in the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts. Miller was previously awarded $500,000 in a lawsuit against the state--the maximum under a 2004 Massachusetts law designed to compensate the wrongfully convicted.
Despite the victories, the nightmare continues for Miller. Its still not over, he said. There are still other guys who are sitting up there because of this forensic guy. Until theyre cleared, everything isn't fine with me. It's not over. Miller, who has had trouble finding a job since his release, said he plans to give away most of the money. It'll do some good for a while, he said.
Attorney Neufeld is based in New York with the firm Cochran, Neufeld Scheck, LLP. Friedman, of the Friedman Law Offices, is based in Boston. See: Miller v. City of Boston, USDC D MA, Case No. 03-10805-JLT.
Additional sources: Boston Globe, eyewitnessnewstv.com
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Related legal case
Miller v. City of Boston
|USDC D MA, Case No. 03-10805-JLT