Court of Claims: Longest Serving Wrongfully Imprisoned Man to Receive Additional $2.65 Million
A Cleveland man falsely imprisoned for 39 years will receive another $2.65 million from the state for his time behind bars, the Ohio Court of Claims ruled Wednesday.
The court granted the final payment to Ricky Jackson for the 14,178 days he spent in prison for a murder he did not commit. In March 2015, the Court of Claims approved a preliminary payment to Jackson for $1,008,055.80 after he was deemed to be wrongfully imprisoned.
Jackson had his death sentence overturned and was released from an Ohio state prison in November 2014 after the key witness in the case against him recanted his story. Jackson was convicted of the 1975 murder of Harold Franks and maintained his innocence throughout his incarceration. Eddie Vernon, who was 12 at the time of the murder, revealed to a Cleveland newspaper in 2012 that he had lied about Jackson and two other men’s involvement in the murder because he wanted to help the police. His remarks led to Jackson receiving a new trial.
On Feb. 12, 2015, a Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court ruled that Jackson established he was wrongfully imprisoned, and Cuyahoga County Prosecuting Attorney Timothy McGinty did not appeal the ruling.
Jackson then presented the appropriate certification to the Court of Claims in February 2015. Court of Claims Judge Patrick M. McGrath ruled that pursuant to R.C. 2743.49 the state auditor’s office calculated the current annual rate of compensation for a wrongfully imprisoned person is $51,902, which amounts to $2,657,055.80. Judge McGrath also approved a payment of $56,200 to Jackson’s attorney Michele L. Berry.
Judge McGrath directed the money not be sent directly to Jackson, but to a bank where an investment management account has been established to pay Jackson for “damages for physical injury caused by wrongful imprisonment.”
According to the National Registry of Exonerations, at the time of his release Jackson was considered the longest-serving person in the nation’s history to be exonerated for his crime.
In February 2016, the Court of Claims approved additional payments to brothers, Wiley Bridgeman and Kwame Ajamu (formerly Ronnie Bridgeman), who were convicted along with Jackson. Bridgeman received about $2.4 million and Ajamu about $1.98 million. The state has found the two were wrongfully imprisoned for 37 and 25 years, respectively.
The Court of Claims is given original jurisdiction to hear and determine all civil actions filed against the state of Ohio and its agencies.
To access information on other cases visit the Court of Claims website.
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