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IA: Former Iowa City schools counselor awarded $12 million after being wrongfully imprisoned for 6 years for sex offense

Source: 9/30/22

Donald Clark won $12 million in a lawsuit he filed against the state of Iowa on Thursday, years after being exonerated and released from prison on false charges that he sexually abused a student while working as an Iowa City elementary school counselor.

A jury awarded Clark $8 million in past emotional distress damages and $4 million for future damages after he spent six years in prison starting in 2010. He was released in 2016 when his conviction was vacated. That year, the court found that his public defender, John Robertson, was ineffective and declared Clark not guilty, but also “actually innocent,” a legally important finding, according to a news release from Clark’s lawyers at The Spence Law Firm LLC.

The jury found that Robertson, who died in 2013, failed to investigate the prosecution’s case against Clark, and a “substandard trial performance led to his conviction and wrongful imprisonment.”

Mel Orchard III of Jackson, Wyoming, one of Clark’s lawyers, told the Press-Citizen on Friday that Clark was joyous when the decision was rendered. Clark and his lawyers spent five years suing the state since his original 25-year prison sentence was vacated.

“A jury said loudly that the state of Iowa must take responsibility when you hurt somebody. That to (Clark), seeing that verdict, was as therapeutic as any amount of money,” Orchard said. “But money is of course a necessary part of compensating anyone. That amount of money is a drop in the bucket in terms of what they took from him and what they left him with.”

Orchard said as soon as Clark got out of prison, he worked to rebuild his life by living in his parents’ basement for a considerable time because the transition from prison to normal life is difficult.

“No matter your belief in your own innocence, your own innocence doesn’t protect you from what prison does to people,” Orchard said.

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There are many guys like he and I. Proving individual innocence however can be very difficult. Naturally the process begins by acknowledging the actual evidence presented in the first place. No different in contesting FTR obligations in court in which States’ have no record from the sex case of registration obligation to present to anyone, much less a jury. Trials are about facts. This has to do with the “sufficiency of complaint” making fodder for pretrial defense motion action.
The brilliance of J.P Stevens in Smith V Doh03 expounds consequently when he used the facts.- Conviction alone as a “necessary AND sufficient condition” to trigger BOTH: A. The impetus to draft the law containing ex post language., B. Apply the retrospect law to the already convicted, violates the prohibition intended by Art. 1sec 9.

Identifying the few who benefits most from forging felons from those whom are not is the key to change. makes it real clear where the culpability rests.
ACSOL doesn’t focus on wrongful conviction, but certainly gains some traction from the reality that they occur. I’d call that reason to doubt in the context of FTR defense.
What is worrisome about this report to me is the man opted to be a school’s councillor. I also see many teachers catching sex crimes. I think there will be a shortage of teachers at an increasing rate. I guess no good deed goes unpunished.

Congratulations to Mr. Donald C of Iowa. I feel that taking away 6 “convicted” years away from this man is horrible. Finally, justice in a form of compensation, although, just my humble opinion, the courts should have awarded him $12 million for each of those 6 years if not more.

I have personally seen from Defense Attorneys, mostly from the Public Defender’s office, take the easy way out with their clients, not willing or even refusing to thoroughly review or attempt to fight the defendants case. This was while I was waiting for my own case to go to trial from 2006 – 2009, (due to one delay after another each month), I would be sitting in the lobby of the Courts, waiting for my name to be called.

As I would wait in the lobby area, I would noticed, observed and listen to many lawyers from the Public Defenders literally treat their clients as only a “number” and as if they were an Inconvenient stack of paperwork piling up on their desk. They seem to want to clear these cases quickly. It was almost the same defense attorneys during my three year wait that I observed.

In addition, these lawyers were rude, short tempered and obnoxious to their clients. I would noticed they would used the same phrase almost every time. “Here’s the plead agreement from the D.A. and you better take it, it’s the best deal you will receive”, (paraphrasing here). This comment was followed by ” you do not have a chance winning your case”.

Another attorney from the Public Defender would always yell at his clients if they had questions or wanted to attempt to defend their own case. Now, I do not know if they had even a slight chance of winning or not. However, this was an obvious pattern that I witness from the same few Public Defenders each month.

And don’t get me started on SOME, (not all), defense trial attorneys that promise the world to you, can’t wait to cash your retainer fee and then afterwards, refuse to call you, return any of your calls, or keep you updated at all on your case, except when you go to court. And even then, they act like they do not even know you. Moreover, in my opinion, some trial attorneys and public defenders in general, (not all), cannot be trusted and are snakes.

Thankfully, we have great attorneys here in ACSOL with Janice and Chance. Truly, I wish I had met and known of Janice, Chance and our group ACSOL during those years. I met Chance after I found and talked with Janice many years ago who referred me to Attorney Chance. I believe I would had a much better outcome. Janice and Chance do incredible work and truly care for us and their clients. Thank you Janice, Chance and ACSOL.

And again, congratulations to Donald from the State of Iowa.

I am really happy for this guy. I firmly believe that until prosecutors and judges have consequences, everything will still be based on conviction numbers rather than justice. It just baffles me that everything regarding sex offenses is so hyperbolic. And what baffles me even more are the folks in the “psychiatric” community who still push the false bias that (given the right circumstances) all sex offenders would reoffend. That is what my current treatment provider pushes. So, this is not something I am making up.

I can tell you (as a person with every kind of addictive behavior just about) that if someone put a pile of methamphetamine in front of me, I would not use it. If someone offered me a cigarette, I would not smoke it. If someone wanted to get drunk, I would not do it. Those all seem to be “the right circumstances” to me. I know in the very fiber of my being that I would not. But with false psychiatry pushing “irresistible compulsion,” we cannot get ahead in legal forums. We are chained by psychiatric profit rather than numerical data.

Additionally, if someone is a good liar and can keep a consistent story, it is bad news for the accused. And guess what? There are very good liars in the world. They usually work in government.

My Public PreTender was horrible. Not all are I know. I had to remind him each time at a hearing why we were there. We received 2 continuances but should have received another one but he failed to mention to the court that we were still waiting on “discovery” from the prosecution. Duh!! At one point I was very close to asking the judge if I could approach the bench on my own to ask him for a different attorney. My attorney said that I would more than likely receive up to 9 months probation with my plea deal; ended up getting 2 to 7 years in state prison. Really?!

I did not know much about a PCRA until well after being in for 15 months.

The entire registry is wrongful imprisonment!

There are so many lawsuits regarding names that are not politically correct any longer. Lady Antebellum changed to Lady A, Dixie Chicks changed to Chicks, can’t say Stewardess anymore, it has to be Flight attendant. Cockpit is no longer acceptable, it is now flight deck, etc, etc. So, why in the world can it be called “Sex Offender” registry, when the person, once out of prison/ jail and done with probation is no longer an offender, especially with an expungement. There should be a lawsuit for using the name “sex offender”, or “sex offender registry”. It is politically wrong and unacceptable.

Would love your thoughts, please comment.x