ENROLLED 2020 Legislature SB 28, 1st Engrossed 202028er 1 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. 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 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.