By Jan Pudlow
Senate President Mike Haridopolos made good on his promise to expedite the process to compensate DNA exoneree Bill Dillon for 27 years he spent in prison for a Brevard County murder he did not commit.
On January 10, the first day of the legislative session, Haridopolos, R-Melbourne, had CS/SB 2 read the third time. The claims bill to compensate Dillon $1.35 million for his wrongful incarceration passed 39-1, with the only “nay” vote cast by Sen. Steve Oelrich, R-Gainesville, a former Alachua County sheriff.
“Today, we took a vote to do the right thing for a man who was wrongfully imprisoned for 27 years of his life,” Haridopolos said. “I firmly believe it is paramount that government step in and correct instances of injustice when we can. That is why I pushed for the establishment of the Innocence Commission — to ensure that justice prevails in every case.
“I commend my fellow senators for their unwavering support of this good bill, and I am pleased that we were able to pass this important piece of legislation on the opening day of the 2012 legislative session.”
The following day, the bill landed in messages in the House.
Whether the House will take up the matter remains to be seen. HB 141, by Rep. Steve Crisafulli, R-Merritt Island, had not yet been scheduled for committee meetings as this News went to press.
House Speaker Dean Cannon, R-Winter Park, told the Associated Press that he expects the House to consider the bill later in the session, but reiterated his view that claims bills are “tertiary” to more important matters lawmakers must deal with, such as the budget and redistricting.