The Wisconsin Claims Board has awarded David R. Turnpaugh compensation of $00.00 for his wrongful convictions in 2006 for soliciting prostitution and bail jumping.
In March 2006 Turnpaugh was convicted of soliciting prostitution from a police decoy in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and jumping bail. He was sentenced to 60 days in jail on the solicitation conviction to be served by 3 days in jail and 57 days on electronic monitoring, and he was sentenced to one year on probation for the bail jumping conviction.
Turnpaugh appealed on the ground the prosecution introduced insufficient evidence to prove two essential elements of his solicitation conviction: He didn’t offer the policewoman any money, and he didn’t proposition her to have sexual intercourse. He also argued his bail jumping conviction should be overturned because it was based on his solicitation conviction.
In September 2007 the Wisconsin Court of Appeals reversed his solicitation conviction based on the prosecution’s failure to introduce evidence proving the two essential elements, and it also reversed his bail jumping conviction that was premised on his solicitation conviction. See, State v. Turnpaugh, 741 N.W.2d 488, 2007 WI App 222 (2007).
The Circuit Court subsequently entered a judgment of acquittal on his solicitation and his bail-jumping convictions.
Wisconsin state law provides for the payment of a maximum of $5,000 for each year or part thereof an innocent person spends in custody. (Wis. Stats. § 775.05(1))
Turnpaugh filed a claim with the State of Wisconsin Claims Board for $5,000 — that covered the one-year he was in custody for both convictions. He also requested an award of $13,682.89 reimbursement for his attorneys’ fees related to his trial defense, his appeal, and his Claims Board claim.
After a hearing on December 10, 2010 the Claims Board denied Turnpaugh’s claim. The Board ruled he “has not presented clear and convincing evidence that he was innocent of the crime for which he was convicted,” and that he “has failed has failed to show that he was imprisoned.” (State of Wisconsin Claims Board, Hearing of December 10, 2010, No. 4 — David R. Turnpaugh)
Turnpaugh appealed to the Circuit Court, which affirmed the Claims Board’s decision.
Turnpaugh then appealed to the Court of Appeals. On May 22, 2012 the appeals reversed the Claims Board’s decision, ruling in Turnpaugh v. Claims Board, No. 2011AP2365 (WI Ct of Appeals):
“¶ 6 We reverse on both aspects of the legal issues presented by this appeal—(A) whether Turnpaugh proved his innocence by the requisite standard, and (B) whether he had been “imprisoned” as a result of his conviction—because the Claims Board’s legal conclusions are wholly unreasonable and directly contravene the statute it is charged with administering.
¶ 8 … as we have set out at length, there was no evidence in support of his conviction, and he was innocent as a matter of law. The Claims Board’s finding to the contrary is inexplicable.
¶ 9 The Board further concludes that the claimant has failed to show that he was imprisoned … Even giving the Claims Board the highest level of deference, this conclusion flies in the face of the statute …”
¶ 11 We reverse the circuit court’s order and remand this matter to the Claims Board for an assessment of what “will equitably compensate” under the guidelines set out in Wis. Stat. § 775.05(4).
The Claims Board reconsidered Turnpaugh’s claim on December 12, 2012. He was again seeking $5,000 for his year in custody, but because of his appeals his claim for attorney’s fees had increased to $23,201.20, for a total claim of $28,201.20.
On December 19 the five-member Claims Board released their 4-1 decision that Turnpaugh was “equitably compensated” with an award of $00.00. The Claims Board’s majority decision was based on their finding that although Turnpaugh “is innocent as a matter of law,” he “contributed to his convictions” that were based on the policewoman’s testimony he agreed to pay to watch her masturbate — which is not illegal. The Claims Board ruled that “as a matter of equity” Turnpaugh’s legal conduct “discount[ed] any compensation to which he may have been entitled” for the one year he was wrongfully in custody.
Claims Board member Lena Taylor wrote a dissent that cogently explained why Turnpaugh’s claim should be granted in full:
“When an Innocent Convict Compensation claim is brought forth before the WI State Claims Board, the Board must consider whether the claimant has demonstrated his or her innocence by clear and convincing evidence. Mr. Turnpaugh has shown that by no recorded action or statement did he express his intent to solicit an act of prostitution nor did he partake in an act of prostitution. A criminal act requires both intent and an act but both are absent. These facts provide both clear and convincing evidence of his innocence. Given his clear innocence, the WI State Claims Board should have paid him based on equitable principles for the time he served as an innocent man imprisoned.”
As Taylor pointed out Turnpaugh is an innocent man who was wrongfully imprisoned and he is therefore entitled to the compensation provided by Wisconsin law “as an innocent man imprisoned.” That the prosecution relied on testimony about his legal conduct is irrelevant to his compensation claim for his wrongful imprisonment.
Given that the Claims Board’s ruling appears to be contrary to both Wisconsin’s compensation statute and the 2007 and 2012 rulings by the Wisconsin Court of Appeals, Turnpaugh can be expected to appeal it.
Turnpaugh’s case up to the Court of Appeals’ May 2012 ruling is set out in detail in Justice Denied’s June 12, 2012 article, “David Turnpaugh Owed Compensation For Wrongful Convictions Says Appeals Court.”