How much is freedom worth? This past month, two men found out. In Ontario, Canada, William Mullins-Johnson spent 12 years in prison for the rape and murder of his niece, based largely on the testimony of forensic pathologist Dr. Charles Smith.
After irregularities were found in many of Smith’s reports, an investigation was launched that ultimately led to Smith being removed from his position for incompetence and several cases in which he testified — including Mullins-Johnson’s — being reviewed. That review then led to the charges against Mullins-Johnson being dropped.
In compensation for his time spent behind bars for a crime he didn’t commit, along with untold emotional distress and damage to his family, the Ontario government just awarded Mullins-Johnson $4.25-million.
Other people who were likewise convicted on the weight of Smith’s testimony may also be compensated, once their cases are reviewed.
At the same time, in the United States, Alan Newton has been awarded $18.5 million by the state of New York for the nearly 22 years he spent in prison, also wrongfully convicted of rape and murder. Newton was cleared, as so many others have been recently, by DNA evidence. But it took 11 years and four formal court filings before authorities found the victim’s rape kit and provided it to Newton’s defense.
The jury that ruled the city of New York had violated Newton’s constitutional rights also found two police officers liable for intentional infliction of emotional distress for failing to produce Newton’s evidence when requested.
Still, Newton may not receive his money, at least for a while; New York City’s Law Department plans on appealing the judgement.