2020 Legislature                            SB 28, 1st Engrossed
    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 payable to
    6         an irrevocable trust for the benefit of Clifford
    7         Williams; specifying conditions for payment; 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 for
   72  the relief of Clifford Williams, for his wrongful incarceration.
   73  The Chief Financial Officer is directed to draw a warrant in the
   74  sum of $2,150,000 payable to the Clifford Williams, Irrevocable
   75  Trust, whose co-trustees are Nathaniel Glover, Jr., Tracy
   76  Bernice Magwood, and Seaside National Bank and Trust. The
   77  trustees shall distribute the funds as may be in the best
   78  interests of Clifford Williams for his lifetime, including a
   79  reasonable monthly living allowance.
   80         Section 3. Tuition and fees for Clifford Williams shall be
   81  waived for up to a total of 120 hours of instruction at any
   82  career center established pursuant to s. 1001.44, Florida
   83  Statutes, Florida College System institution established under
   84  part III of chapter 1004, Florida Statutes, or state university.
   85  For any educational benefit made, Clifford Williams must meet
   86  and maintain the regular admission and registration requirements
   87  of such career center, institution, or state university and make
   88  satisfactory academic progress as defined by the educational
   89  institution in which he is enrolled.
   90         Section 4. The Chief Financial Officer shall pay the funds
   91  directed by this act upon the delivery by Clifford Williams to
   92  the Chief Financial Officer, the Department of Financial
   93  Services, the President of the Senate, and the Speaker of the
   94  House of Representatives of a release executed by Clifford
   95  Williams for himself and on behalf of his heirs, successors, and
   96  assigns which fully and forever releases and discharges the
   97  state and its agencies and subdivisions, as defined by s.
   98  768.28(2), Florida Statutes, from any and all present or future
   99  claims or declaratory relief that Clifford Williams or any of
  100  his heirs, successors, or assigns may have against the state and
  101  its agencies and subdivisions, as defined by s. 768.28(2),
  102  Florida Statutes, arising out of the factual situation in
  103  connection with the arrest, conviction, and incarceration for
  104  which compensation is awarded. Without limitation on the
  105  foregoing, the release must specifically release and discharge
  106  Sheriff Mike Williams of the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office in
  107  his official capacity, and any current or former sheriffs,
  108  deputies, agents, or employees of the Jacksonville Sheriff’s
  109  Office in their individual capacities, from all claims, causes
  110  of action, demands, rights, and claims for attorney fees or
  111  costs, of whatever kind or nature, whether in law or equity,
  112  including, but not limited to, any claims pursuant to 42 U.S.C.
  113  s. 1983, that Clifford Williams had, has, or might hereinafter
  114  have or claim to have, whether known or not, against the
  115  Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office, and Sheriff Mike Williams
  116  assigns, successors in interest, predecessors in interest,
  117  heirs, employees, agents, servants, officers, directors,
  118  deputies, insurers, reinsurers, and excess insurers, in their
  119  official and individual capacities, and that arise out of, are
  120  associated with, or are a cause of the arrest, conviction, and
  121  incarceration for which compensation is awarded, including any
  122  known or unknown loss, injury, or damage related to or caused by
  123  the same and which may arise in the future. However, this act
  124  does not prohibit declaratory action by a judicial or executive
  125  branch agency, as otherwise provided by law, for Clifford
  126  Williams to obtain judicial expungement of his criminal history
  127  record as related to the arrest and convictions for first-degree
  128  murder and first-degree attempted murder.
  129         Section 5. The Legislature does not waive any defense of
  130  sovereign immunity or increase the limits of liability on behalf
  131  of the state or any person or entity that is subject to s.
  132  768.28, Florida Statutes, or any other law.
  133         Section 6. This award is intended to provide the sole
  134  compensation for any and all present and future claims arising
  135  out of the factual situation described in this act which
  136  resulted in Clifford Williams’ arrest, conviction, and
  137  incarceration. There may not be any further award to include
  138  attorney fees, lobbying fees, costs, or other similar expenses
  139  to Clifford Williams by the state or any agency,
  140  instrumentality, or political subdivision thereof, or any other
  141  entity, including any county constitutional officer, officer, or
  142  employee, in state or federal court.
  143         Section 7. If any future factual finding determines that
  144  Clifford Williams, by DNA evidence or otherwise, participated in
  145  any manner related to the death of Jeanette Williams or the
  146  attempted murder of Nina Marshall, the unused benefits to which
  147  Clifford Williams is entitled under this act are vacated.
  148         Section 8. This act shall take effect upon becoming a law.