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Wisconsin Claims Board Awards Almost $110,000 for Wrongful Rape Conviction, Attorney Fees

Wisconsin Claims Board Awards Almost $110,000 for Wrongful Rape Conviction, Attorney Fees

In 1990, Anthony Hicks was convicted of raping a woman who lived in his apartment building. He was sentenced to 19 years in prison. Central to the state’s case were pubic hairs found on the victim which were “visually matched” to Hicks. Hicks maintained his innocence and, after his conviction, convinced Madison, Wisconsin attorney Stephen Hurley to take his case.

Hurley claimed that Hicks’ trial lawyer, Willie Nunnery, never sought DNA testing of the hairs. Hurley secured a DNA test that excluded Hicks. The state appealed, but the DNA findings were upheld by the Wisconsin Supreme Court in 1996. Hicks was released the following year after the state announced it would not seek another trial.

Hicks filed suit against Nunnery for failing to obtain a DNA test, and won a jury award of $2.6 million. Nunnery appealed and the judgment was overturned when the court ruled that Hicks had not proven his innocence. A confidential settlement between Hicks and Nunnery in December 2004 precluded a retrial in the suit.

Meanwhile, Hicks had a wrongful incarceration claim pending before the state Claims Board; the claim was apparently held in abeyance while his lawsuit against Nunnery was pending. On December 13, 2006, the Board finally awarded Hicks the statutory maximum in damages – $25,000 – plus $53,060 in attorney fees. That was about half the fees that Hurley had requested for representing Hicks.

Upon a petition for rehearing, the Claims Board was asked to reconsider the amount of attorney fees. On December 4, 2007, the Board awarded fees to Hurley in the increased amount of $78,591.94. The Claims Board also awarded $6,175.70 in fees to Jeff Scott Olson, the attorney who litigated Hicks’ state claim. See: In the Matter of the Claim of Anthony Hicks, Wisconsin Claims Board, Case No. CB-07-0001.

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Related legal case

In the Matter of the Claim of Anthony Hicks