Saturday, 5 April 2008

FJA Recognizes Individuals Who Exemplify the Continuing Fight for Justice in Florida

Alan Crotzer

... Also honored was Michael H. Olenick, of Carlton Fields P.A., who was presented with FJA's Pro Bono Award for his selfless pro bono service in seeking justice on behalf of Alan Crotzer, a man who was wrongfully incarcerated by the state of Florida for over 24 years. Michael’s determined commitment to not only seek just compensation for Alan, but to help him adjust to living in a world much changed during the 24 years spent living in an isolated prison cell, goes above and beyond the common call of justice.

In addition, FJA rightfully recognized Alan Crotzer for his continuing belief in prevailing justice. On January 23, 2006, Alan was released after being exonerated by DNA evidence after being sentenced to serve 130 years for a crime he did not commit. Despite losing so much of his life, Alan holds no resentment towards the justice system. Instead, he now seeks to help others by lobbying for the passage of a uniform system of compensating individuals who are wrongfully incarcerated.

"Alan always believed that justice would ultimately prevail," said Scott Carruthers. "Instead of holding bitterness towards a system that failed him, Alan now seeks to create a system which recognizes that wrongful incarcerations do occur and provide a mechanism to compensate all individuals who are exonerated."

During the 2007 Florida Legislative Session, House Bill 125 by Rep. Taylor, as originally drafted, would have provided for such a system. Although it passed several committees in both chambers and Governor Crist pledged his support during an impromptu meeting with Alan Crotzer and in the media, ultimately no wrongful incarceration compensation bill passed.

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