innocence blog

A Web log for the Innocence Institute of Point Park University

Monday, October 24, 2005

Man gets $328,200 for false conviction

State awards him $100 a day for 9 years he spent in prison for a rape he didn't commit.

By M.S. Enkoji -- Bee Staff Writer

Published 2:15 am PDT Friday, October 21, 2005

A 38-year-old man who served nearly nine years in prison for a Lodi rape he didn't commit was awarded $328,200 in compensation by a state board Thursday, $100 for every day behind bars.
The compensation was only the 12th of its kind granted by the state in recent history.
Peter Rose, who now lives in Point Arena, was convicted in 1995 of kidnapping and raping a 13-year-old Lodi girl, but his conviction was overturned in 2004 based on DNA evidence. The victim has also recanted her identification of Rose, which had been crucial to prosecutors' case against him.
Rose appealed to the state Victim Compensation and Government Claims Board for restitution after he was released from prison in October 2004. Rose's claim for compensation, by law, had to independently prove his innocence, and show that he didn't do anything that led to his arrest and that he suffered financially.
Only 11 others claiming to be wrongly convicted have won compensation since 1981, the earliest year the state has on record. Since then, 55 people have filed claims. The law permitting restitution for the wrongfully convicted dates back to 1941.
Until 2001, the most an innocent person could collect for being wrongly convicted was $10,000. Rose is the sixth person - since the law changed in 2001 - to be granted compensation on the per-diem basis.
Rose's road to restitution, even with hefty endorsements of innocence from a judge and supporting biological evidence, was hardly smooth.
"It's a very high threshold," said Ray Hasu, a San Francisco attorney, who represented him for free. Hasu filed a 4-inch-thick claim on behalf of Rose, including an investigation by the state attorney general's office.
At the same hearing Thursday, the Compensation Board rejected the claim of a Shasta County man who was convicted of molesting one of his daughters; the conviction was dismissed on a technicality. He had freely admitted to authorities that he had molested another daughter and was caught on tape apologizing to both his daughters for molesting them.
A third claim before the board came from a Los Angeles man who served time for drug trafficking. He was released when he successfully appealed on the basis of incompetent legal representation. He was unable to prove to the state, though, that he was innocent. Police had seen him carrying a bucket later found filled with marijuana.
Rose's successful claim is the first for the Northern California Innocence Project, which did the legwork to get his conviction overturned. The project is part of the Innocence Network, a national group of law and journalism schools and public defender's offices that help inmates who have been wrongly convicted.
Rose was an unemployed beekeeper in 1994 when the girl told police he grabbed her off a Lodi street, punched her in the face and dragged her to an alley, where he raped her. The victim pointed out Rose on the street to a driver who had given her a ride after the assault.
Rose was convicted in 1995 and sentenced to 27 years in prison. Semen from the attack wasn't enough for DNA testing 10 years ago, but more refined methods had developed by June 2004, when Rose won a court order to test the sample. It did not match Rose's DNA. A second test in 2005 also ruled out a man who was the girl's boyfriend at the time.
After Rose was declared "factually innocent" by a San Joaquin Superior Court judge in 2004, he was released from Mule Creek State Prison.
Rose is working two jobs - in construction and on a fishing boat - to care for four children and his ailing mother, said Susan Rutberg, director of the Northern California Innocence Project at Golden Gate University.
"He so wanted to be here, but he couldn't take the time off work," she told the board.
She and Hasu asked the board to consider paying Rose for the time he spent in San Joaquin County jail during the trial. Rose was unable to raise his $100,000 bail and spent 318 days in county jail, Rutberg said.
Board members denied the additional $31,800 based on state law, which they said limits compensation to $100 a day from conviction.
Rose's attorneys said they might appeal to the state Legislature to change the law, even though Rose might not benefit.
Rose's mother took care of his children - one of whom is a stepchild - while he was in prison. Then she was diagnosed with bone cancer, said Rutberg. The day Rose got out of prison, he went home and fixed her sink. He's been taking care of her ever since, Rutberg said.
The law that changed the rate of compensation came after Kevin Green, an Orange County man, was convicted of killing and raping his pregnant wife in 1980. In 1996, DNA testing and a confession from someone else exonerated Green after 16 years in prison. The $10,000 amount seemed to pale next to Green's ordeal, legislators believed. He was awarded $620,000, the single largest compensation amount.