Prosecutorial Misconduct: Justice Dept. Agrees to Pay $140,000 to Man Wrongly Jailed
The Justice Department has agreed to pay nearly $140,000 to a Florida man who spent three years in jail while prosecutors concealed evidence that could have set him free.
The Justice Department had conceded in court papers that it is required to compensate Nino Lyons for the time he was wrongly jailed, but it argued the amount should be far lower — $5,000 for each year. Justice Department attorneys dropped their appeal last month, clearing the way for Lyons to be paid the full amount. The department declined to comment.
Lyons, whose case was documented in a 2010 USA TODAY investigation of misconduct by federal prosecutors, was arrested in 2000 on drug and counterfeit merchandise charges. He was found guilty the following year, based mostly on the testimony of convicted felons.
STORY: Prosecutors’ conduct can tip justice scales
A federal judge threw out the charges in 2004, blasting prosecutors for a “protracted course of misconduct” that “caused extraordinary prejudice to Lyons, exhibited disregard of the Government’s duties, and demonstrated contempt for this court.”
In 2010, U.S. District Judge Gregory Presnell took the unusual step of declaring that Lyons was actually innocent, partly because “the most damning testimony against Lyons had come from people who had been allowed, if not encouraged, to lie under oath.”
Despite being declared innocent, Lyons still faces challenges . “It’s tough for him to find work because there is always that sort of cloud hanging over him,” his attorney, Robert Berry, said.