Last week, the Legislature adopted amendments on Select File and advanced to Final Reading Legislative Bill 260. LB 260 is the Nebraska Claims for Wrongful Conviction and Imprisonment Act. I would like to update you on the status of this bill.
LB260, as originally introduced, would have allowed individuals wrongfully convicted and imprisoned to file a claim against the state for monetary restitution. It would have allowed such individuals to claim up to $50,000 for every year imprisoned and a long list of other potential claims against the state, possibly adding up to several million dollars.
Last week's amendments have made considerable changes to LB 260. Under the adopted changes, LB 260 will require any claims for wrongful conviction and imprisonment to be filed under Nebraska's current Tort Claims Act, and treated similarly. In order to recover under this bill the claimant must prove each of the following, by clear and convincing evidence.
First, that the claimant has been convicted of a felony and sentence to a prison term. Second, that the claimant has been pardoned, the court has vacated the conviction, or the conviction has been reversed or remanded for a new trial and they have not been convicted. Third, that the claimant is innocent of the crime; and finally, that the claimant did not commit perjury, fabricate evidence, or make a false statement to cause conviction or conviction of another regarding the crime. Moreover, the claimant shall only recover damages found to proximately result from the wrongful conviction and, which have been proved by a preponderance of the evidence.
Instead of a per-year dollar amount and other potential claims, LB 260 was amended to cap damages at $500,000. It was also amended to not expunge their criminal history, but include any judgment against or settlement with the state resulting from their wrongful conviction and imprisonment in their record.
These changes improve the bill greatly from its original form by controlling the cost and placing the claim under our current Tort Claims Act, but the cap did not go low enough for me to vote for it; I decided not to vote.
I agree philosophically that if I were wrongfully convicted and imprisoned for many years that I personally would want more than a $100 and a "sorry," but I still believe the potential of $500,000 is too much.
As always, do not hesitate to contact me with any questions, concerns, or comments.