The State of Maryland will award an additional $806,000 in compensation to Bernard Webster, a man who spent nearly 20 years in prison for a 1982 rape he did not commit. Mr. Webster became eligible for the award under the Walter Lomax Act, a law passed last year following years of advocacy. Brown, Goldstein & Levy attorney Neel Lalchandani, who has taken on several high-impact wrongful imprisonment cases, represented Mr. Webster. The Maryland Daily Record covered this case and Mr. Webster’s additional compensation in a story published last week.
Following DNA testing in 2002, Mr. Webster became the first person exonerated under Maryland’s post-conviction DNA law. His initial compensation from the State totaled $900,000 in 2003. However, under the Walter Lomax Act, Mr. Webster became eligible for an additional award to bring the total compensation up to $1.7 million. The award also includes benefits like education opportunities, job training, and healthcare.
Neel told The Daily Record that the additional money and benefits will allow Mr. Webster to enter a new stage of his life.
“It’s hard, when you miss out on two decades of the prime of your life, to build a meaningful career and to have the stability and the savings and the skill set to move into retirement comfortably,” Neel said in a quote to The Daily Record. “Mr. Webster will be able to use this money to have transportation and to have a place of his own and to really, hopefully, experience some peace and stability.”