The Arkansas Project's Nic Horton has an update on last week's story about Gyronne Buckley, a man denied compensation by the state legislature even though he was wrongfully convicted and incarcerated for 11 years.
Horton interview state Sen. Jeremy Hutchinson (R), who heads the Judiciary Committee and voted to deny Buckley's compensation. Horton comes away unpersuaded by Hutchinson's explanation. Here is a snippet, with Hutchinson's comments in Italics and Horton's in plain text:
When special prosecutor Larry Jegley chose not to retry Buckley, Hutchinson said:
…the state did him a favor by not putting him or the taxpayers through that and released him. And, uh, his conviction was expunged, and that — I know eleven years is a long time, but if you look at it from his perspective, if he truly is innocent, that's a travesty of justice. If you look at it from a prosecutor's side, the guy's guilty and he only served a third of his sentence. That could also be called a travesty of justice.
I hope that Hutchinson is wrong. Do prosecutors actually believe that those who receive trials which are so unfair that their sentences are overturned should really be in prison anyway? Is there any prosecutor who believes that escaping from a thirty-year sentence based on an unfair trial is a travesty of justice?
Hutchinson expanded on this logic:
Mr. Buckley could've seen another 20 years if Jegley had taken him back to trial. Jegley chose not to and said 'I think justice has been done and we're going to –' instead of jumping for joy and being happy, he turns around and sues the state.
I don't want to put words in Hutchinson's mouth, but I think he's arguing here that if Buckley had a more sophisticated understanding of the criminal justice system, he'd be grateful that he got off easy with an unfair trial and the 11 years behind bars that came with it.
Read the full interview here.