Leroy McGee, a carpenter from Fort Lauderdale, will sign papers on Tuesday that will allow him to receive $179,000 under the state’s Victims of Wrongful Incarceration Compensation Act. McGee was convicted in April 1991 of a gas station robbery he did not commit and will become the first person to be compensated under the law. McGee is the first person to apply for and receive compensation under the law. Under the law, he will receive $50,000 for every year he spent in prison.
McGee was convicted of the robbery even though his time card and boss from his janitorial job at Fort Lauderdale High School both confirmed he was working at the school at the time of the robbery. McGee’s defense attorney, who is now disbarred, failed to raise a single objection during the entire trial and tried to enter the wrong time card into evidence.
The state’s refusal to reimburse McGee for his legal fees and costs associated with seeking compensation under the law led to him deferring his award since becoming eligible in July 2009. McGee waited to sign the paperwork while he tried to get the state to cover his costs associated with pursuing his claim for compensation. McGee tried to hold out to draw attention to the issue so that future claimants would not be prevented from seeking compensation by the legal cost. An attorney represented McGee on a 25 percent contingency basis.
Some have argued that the flawed legislation will leave many victims without a legal remedy. “If you’ve been in prison for a long time, you have no money,” said Seth Miller, Executive Director of the Innocence Project of Florida, “But to get your compensation, you have to spend money you don’t have to get a lawyer.”