On October 30, 2019, the Maryland Board of Public Works approved payments to five wrongly convicted Marylanders, including BGL clients Jerome Johnson and Clarence Shipley. Both men served decades in prison for murders they did not commit before the State of Maryland acknowledged their innocence. Mr. Johnson spent more than 29 years in Maryland prisons until his exoneration in July 2018. Mr. Shipley served approximately 27 years until his release from prison in December 2018.
Current Maryland law allows the Board of Public Works to grant compensation for someone who was “erroneously convicted, sentenced, and confined under State law for a crime the individual did not commit.” Earlier this year, Mr. Johnson and Mr. Shipley petitioned the Board under this State law, requesting renumeration for the enormous pain and suffering they endured.
On Wednesday, the Board of Public Works, comprised of Governor Hogan, Treasurer Kopp, and Comptroller Franchot, finally took action on our clients’ petitions and those of three other exonerees. Under the terms of the compensation agreements, Mr. Johnson and Mr. Shipley will receive approximately $2.3 million and $2.1 million, respectively. These payments are the second and third largest amounts awarded by the BPW to exonerees in State history. Each man will also receive provisions for mental health and financial counseling. Before acting on the five petitions, the Board had not awarded compensation to an exoneree since 2004. At the time of the BPW vote, State Treasurer Nancy Kopp acknowledged the work of the exonerees’ lawyers, who were led by Brown, Goldstein & Levy, stating that the compensation would not have happened without our perseverance.
Mr. Johnson and Mr. Shipley were represented pro bono in connection with their petitions by a team of BGL attorneys, including Neel Lalchandani, Andrew Freeman, Kobie Flowers, Andrew Levy, Joshua Treem, Chelsea Crawford, Jean Zachariasiewicz, and Abigail Graber.