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. 15 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, 65 66 Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida: 67 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.