Texas Comptroller Denies Compensation to Death-Row Exoneree Alfred Brown
Texas State Comptroller Glenn Hegar has rejected an application for compensation filed by death-row exoneree Alfred DeWayne Brown, asserting that the court proceedings leading to his release did not constitute a determination that he was "actually innocent." Brown had applied for approximately $1.9 million in cash and annuity payments under Texas' exoneration compensation law. Harris County prosecutors dismissed charges against Brown in June 2015, after he had spent a decade on death row for the murders of a Houston police officer and a store clerk during a robbery. The Texas courts overturned Brown's conviction because prosecutors improperly withheld a phone record that showed Brown was at his girlfriend's apartment near the time of the robbery and murders. There was no physical evidence against Brown and a Houston Chronicle investigation revealed that a police officer who was appointed grand jury foreman in the case had threatened the girlfriend with perjury for initially supporting Brown's alibi and that prosecutors had jailed her for seven weeks until she changed her testimony to implicate Brown. The compensation decision highlights the recurring question of revictimization of wrongfully convicted death-row inmates resulting from denials of compensation. Louisiana similarly denied compensation to death-row exoneree, Glenn Ford, who was suffering from terminal cancer. The author of that state's compensation law recently called that denial "a grave injustice and misinterpretation of the law," and with the support of Ford's former prosecutor, Marty Stroud, has introduced a new bill to provide compensation to Ford's family.
Brown's lawyer said that the comptroller's decision "ignores what the Texas Supreme Court has clearly said regarding the right to compensation" and that Brown will appeal the ruling.
(B. Rogers, Comptroller: Former death row inmate not eligible for exoneration funds, The Houston Chronicle, April 7, 2016; G. Hilburn, "Glover files bill to compensate Glenn Ford's family," The News-Star, April 6, 2016.) See Innocence.