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$1 Million Settlement in Texas Wrongful Conviction Suit

On March 31, 2011, a man who had been falsely convicted of burglary, rape and sexual abuse accepted a $1 million settlement after being exonerated by DNA evidence.
Donald Wayne Good filed a 42 U.S.C. § 1983 civil rights suit in federal court against the City of Irving, Texas and Irving police officials, alleging he was intentionally framed for a 1983 rape/burglary because he failed to provide information to the police about a series of burglaries.

According to court documents, Good had been arrested for a bond violation on a DWI charge when police detective Fred Curtis questioned him about the burglaries. Good failed to provide the requested information and Curtis allegedly threatened to frame him for a recent rape. Curtis then reportedly manipulated a photograph he took of Good so that he appeared darker, making him a closer match to the victim’s description of the rapist.
Curtis also allegedly manipulated the victim into providing a false identification from a photo lineup by keeping her from seeing Good’s actual color and distinctive scars or hearing his voice, and preventing a live face-to-face or voice line up.

Good was prosecuted in 1983 but the trial ended in a mistrial. A second prosecution in 1984 resulted in a life sentence that was overturned on appeal due to prosecutorial misconduct. A third trial in 1987 resulted in convictions on all counts and another life sentence. During the final trial, Good was handcuffed and gagged by the bailiff for being disruptive in court.

Following his release on parole in 1993, Good was arrested on a minor property crime for stealing tools from a truck; his parole was revoked and he began serving the balance of his life sentence plus five years for the property offense.

Good filed a motion to have his DNA tested in 2002, which was granted. In a lab report dated April 7, 2004, the Texas Department of Public Safety laboratory confirmed that Good was not the contributor of the spermatozoa found at the crime scene, excluding him as the rapist. His sentences were vacated by the Court of Criminal Appeals on November 17, 2004. Good served the remainder of his five-year sentence for the property offense and was released in April 2007. He was 51 years old and had spent a total of 13 years, 7 months and 5 days in prison.

The settlement in Good’s civil suit was comprised of $300,000 paid by an insurance company and $700,000 paid by Curtis and the City of Irving, and included costs and attorney fees. Neither the city nor Curtis admitted liability; the city’s legal expenses were reportedly over $490,000. Good was represented by Dallas attorneys Mark Werbner and Christopher Bankler, and Richardson attorney Sean S. Modjarrad. See: Good v. City of Irving, U.S.D.C. (N.D. Tex.), Case No. 3:06-cv-02133-K.

Additional sources: Dallas Morning News,

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Related legal case

Good v. City of Irving