Florida Senate - 2020                              (NP)    SB 28
       By Senator Gibson
       6-00176-20                                              202028__
    1                        A bill to be entitled                      
    2         An act for the relief of Clifford Williams; providing
    3         an appropriation to compensate him for being
    4         wrongfully incarcerated for 43 years; directing the
    5         Chief Financial Officer to draw a warrant for the
    6         purchase of an annuity; requiring the Department of
    7         Financial Services to pay specified funds; providing
    8         for the waiver of certain tuition and fees for Mr.
    9         Williams; specifying conditions for payment; providing
   10         that the act does not waive certain defenses or
   11         increase the state’s limits of liability; prohibiting
   12         any further award to include certain fees and costs;
   13         providing that certain benefits are vacated upon
   14         specified findings; providing an effective date.
   16         WHEREAS, Clifford Williams was arrested on May 2, 1976, and
   17  convicted of first-degree murder and first-degree attempted
   18  murder on September 2, 1976, and
   19         WHEREAS, Clifford Williams spent 4 years on death row
   20  before the Florida Supreme Court reversed his death sentence in
   21  1980, and
   22         WHEREAS, Clifford Williams has maintained his innocence,
   23  and
   24         WHEREAS, on February 25, 2019, the Conviction Integrity
   25  Review Division (CIR) for the Office of the State Attorney for
   26  the Fourth Judicial Circuit issued a report and recommendation,
   27  based on a comprehensive investigation spanning nearly a year,
   28  in Clifford Williams’ case, and
   29         WHEREAS, on March 28, 2019, the Circuit Court for the
   30  Fourth Judicial Circuit granted, with the concurrence of the
   31  state, a motion for postconviction relief, vacated the judgment
   32  and sentence of Clifford Williams, and ordered a new trial, and
   33         WHEREAS, on March 28, 2019, the state orally pronounced a
   34  nolle prosequi with regard to the retrial of Clifford Williams,
   35  and
   36         WHEREAS, the report found that there was no credible
   37  evidence of Clifford Williams’ guilt, and likewise, that there
   38  was substantial credible evidence of Clifford Williams’
   39  innocence, and
   40         WHEREAS, the Legislature acknowledges that the state’s
   41  system of justice yielded an imperfect result that had tragic
   42  consequences in this case, and
   43         WHEREAS, the Legislature acknowledges that, as a result of
   44  his physical confinement, Clifford Williams suffered significant
   45  damages that are unique to Clifford Williams, and such damages
   46  are due to the fact that he was physically restrained and
   47  prevented from exercising the freedom to which all innocent
   48  citizens are entitled, and
   49         WHEREAS, before his conviction for the above-mentioned
   50  crimes, Clifford Williams had two prior convictions for
   51  unrelated felonies, and
   52         WHEREAS, because of his prior violent felony convictions,
   53  Clifford Williams is ineligible for compensation under chapter
   54  961, Florida Statutes, and
   55         WHEREAS, the Legislature is providing compensation to
   56  Clifford Williams to acknowledge the fact that he suffered
   57  significant damages that are unique to Clifford Williams for
   58  being wrongfully incarcerated, and
   59         WHEREAS, the CIR’s comprehensive investigation of the
   60  matter found verifiable and substantial evidence of Clifford
   61  Williams’ actual innocence of first-degree murder and first
   62  degree attempted murder, and
   63         WHEREAS, the Legislature apologizes to Clifford Williams on
   64  behalf of the state, NOW, THEREFORE,
   66  Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida:
   68         Section 1. The facts stated in the preamble to this act are
   69  found and declared to be true.
   70         Section 2. The sum of $2,150,000 is appropriated from the
   71  General Revenue Fund to the Department of Financial Services
   72  under the conditions provided in this act.
   73         Section 3. The Chief Financial Officer is directed to draw
   74  a warrant in the sum specified in section 2 for the purposes
   75  provided in this act.
   76         Section 4. The Department of Financial Services shall pay
   77  the funds appropriated under this act to an insurance company or
   78  other financial institution admitted and authorized to issue
   79  annuity contracts in this state and selected by Clifford
   80  Williams to purchase an annuity. The Chief Financial Officer
   81  shall execute all necessary agreements to implement this act and
   82  to maximize the benefit to Clifford Williams.
   83         Section 5. Tuition and fees for Clifford Williams shall be
   84  waived for up to a total of 120 hours of instruction at any
   85  career center established pursuant to s. 1001.44, Florida
   86  Statutes, Florida College System institution established under
   87  part III of chapter 1004, Florida Statutes, or state university.
   88  For any educational benefit made, Clifford Williams must meet
   89  and maintain the regular admission and registration requirements
   90  of such career center, institution, or state university and make
   91  satisfactory academic progress as defined by the educational
   92  institution in which he is enrolled.
   93         Section 6. The Chief Financial Officer shall purchase the
   94  annuity as required by this act upon delivery by Clifford
   95  Williams to the Chief Financial Officer, the Department of
   96  Financial Services, the President of the Senate, and the Speaker
   97  of the House of Representatives of a release executed by
   98  Clifford Williams for himself and on behalf of his heirs,
   99  successors, and assigns which fully and forever releases and
  100  discharges the state and its agencies and subdivisions, as
  101  defined by s. 768.28(2), Florida Statutes, from any and all
  102  present or future claims or declaratory relief that Clifford
  103  Williams or any of his heirs, successors, or assigns may have
  104  against the state and its agencies and subdivisions, as defined
  105  by s. 768.28(2), Florida Statutes, arising out of the factual
  106  situation in connection with the arrest, conviction, and
  107  incarceration for which compensation is awarded. Without
  108  limitation on the foregoing, the release must specifically
  109  release and discharge Sheriff Mike Williams of the Jacksonville
  110  Sheriff’s Office in his official capacity, and any current or
  111  former sheriffs, deputies, agents, or employees of the
  112  Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office in their individual capacities,
  113  from all claims, causes of action, demands, rights, and claims
  114  for attorney fees or costs, of whatever kind or nature, whether
  115  in law or equity, including, but not limited to, any claims
  116  pursuant to 42 U.S.C. s. 1983, that Clifford Williams had, has,
  117  or might hereinafter have or claim to have, whether known or
  118  not, against the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office, and Sheriff Mike
  119  Williams’ assigns, successors in interest, predecessors in
  120  interest, heirs, employees, agents, servants, officers,
  121  directors, deputies, insurers, reinsurers, and excess insurers,
  122  in their official and individual capacities, and that arise out
  123  of, are associated with, or are a cause of the arrest,
  124  conviction, and incarceration for which compensation is awarded,
  125  including any known or unknown loss, injury, or damage related
  126  to or caused by the same and which may arise in the future.
  127  However, this act does not prohibit declaratory action by a
  128  judicial or executive branch agency, as otherwise provided by
  129  law, for Clifford Williams to obtain judicial expungement of his
  130  criminal history record as related to the arrest and convictions
  131  for first-degree murder and first-degree attempted murder.
  132         Section 7. The Legislature does not waive any defense of
  133  sovereign immunity or increase the limits of liability on behalf
  134  of the state or any person or entity that is subject to s.
  135  768.28, Florida Statutes, or any other law.
  136         Section 8. This award is intended to provide the sole
  137  compensation for any and all present and future claims arising
  138  out of the factual situation described in this act which
  139  resulted in Clifford Williams’ arrest, conviction, and
  140  incarceration. There may not be any further award to include
  141  attorney fees, lobbying fees, costs, or other similar expenses
  142  to Clifford Williams by the state or any agency,
  143  instrumentality, or political subdivision thereof, or any other
  144  entity, including any county constitutional officer, officer, or
  145  employee, in state or federal court.
  146         Section 9. If any future factual finding determines that
  147  Clifford Williams, by DNA evidence or otherwise, participated in
  148  any manner related to the death of Jeanette Williams or the
  149  attempted murder of Nina Marshall, the unused benefits to which
  150  Clifford Williams is entitled under this act are vacated.
  151         Section 10. This act shall take effect upon becoming a law.