New York City’s $41 million settlement in the “Central Park Five” lawsuit has established what some plaintiff attorneys say is a new minimum asking price in wrongful-conviction cases, reports the Wall Street Journal. Last month, the city agreed to pay about $1 million for each year of incarceration to five men who combined spent just under 41 years in prison for the 1989 near-deadly beating and rape of an investment banker jogging in Central Park. In 2002, another man confessed and DNA evidence confirmed he raped the jogger. The five men’s convictions were overturned.
There is no formula for compensating the wrongly convicted. However, plaintiff attorneys say recent settlements in New York state have worked out to between $300,000 and $500,000 for each year a wrongfully convicted person spent incarcerated. “When they value the Central Park Five’s lives at $1 million a year [of incarceration] that’s certainly a starting point,” said attorney Taylor Koss, who represents Jonathan Fleming, whose conviction on murder charges was overturned by prosecutors in April. “I would be crazy to start anywhere else,” Koss said. Peter Cross, the attorney in another murder case where the conviction was overturned, said he would try to get more than $1 million for each year that his client was incarcerated.