Exonerated man doesn't have to split wrongful incarceration comp with ex, appeals court rules

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A Texas law authorizing the payment of state compensation to individuals who were wrongfully incarcerated makes provisions for unpaid child support.

But nowhere does it say that the comp is for lost income or community property, reports Courthouse News. Hence, the ex-wife of a former inmate awarded millions after serving 24 years for rapes committed by another man cannot claim a share on that basis, a three-judge panel of the 5th District Court of Appeals ruled on Monday.

Former inmate Steven Phillips “was thrilled when I gave him the news,” his lawyer, Randy Turner, told the news agency. “First he was imprisoned for 25 years for crimes he did not commit. Then, when he was finally exonerated and released from prison, a greedy Lubbock lawyer claimed he was entitled to half of the $2 million Steven received from the state. We litigated that lawsuit and, when it was finally concluded, Steven’s ex-wife sued him so she could get a piece of the pie. He was ready for the lawsuits to end so he could get on with his life.”

His ex, Traci Tucker, had been married to Phillips for nearly two years when he was arrested and charged in 1982. She divorced him a decade later.

Her lawyer, Jerry Patchen, could not be reached by Courthouse News for comment.

Phillips’ former lawyer, Kevin Glasheen, tells his side of the story in a letter (PDF) posted on the Internet.

Additional and related coverage: “New legal battle for ex-prisoner awarded $6M: Ex-wife who he divorced in 1992 wants a share”

Unfair Park (Dallas Observer): “As Lawyers Fight Over Exonerees’ Money, the State Says Changes Must Be Made”

Patti Hart (Houston Chronicle): “State bar loses case against Lubbock attorney for exoneree fees”

KCBD: “Kevin Glasheen cleared of professional misconduct”

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