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Jury Awards $2.3 Million to DC Man Imprisoned 10 Years After Wrongful Parole Revocation

Posted Dec 14, 2011 3:36 PM CDT
By Mark Hansen

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A federal jury has awarded a Washington, D.C., man $2.3 million for the 10 years he spent in prison after his parole was wrongfully revoked in 1996.

U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson had previously held that the district was liable for violating Charles Singletary's constitutional rights, setting up a monetary trial on damages that resulted in Monday's jury verdict on his behalf, The BLT: The Blog of Legal Times reported.

Singleton was on parole on a prior armed robbery conviction for which he had spent seven years in prison when he was arrested for his alleged role in a 1995 murder. The charges were eventually dropped, but the now-defunct District of Columbia Board of Parole revoked his parole and sent him back to prison in 1996 based on what an appeals court later ruled was hearsay evidence.

The U.S. Parole Commission, which later assumed the parole board's duties, ruled in 2006 that there wasn't enough evidence to warrant revoking Singleton's parole and ordered him freed on supervised release. He sued the city in 2009 for allegedly violating his due process rights.

Edward Sussman, a lawyer for Singletary, said after the verdict that the award "fairly compensates" his client for the "terrible wrong" that was done to him. "It's 10 years of a man's life, and unfortunately the only thing we have to give back is money," he said.

Ohio State University law professor Doug Berman, who mentioned the verdict Wednesday on his Sentencing Law and Policy blog, said $2.3 million might seem like a lot of money for a man who wrongfully spent 10 years in prison. But he also said it's an offer he suspects few people would be willing to accept.

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