Dallas County public defender Michelle Moore -- who's on loan to Dallas County District Attorney Craig Watkins's Conviction Integrity Unit -- chimed in last night with a comment on Unfair Park. Specifically, she wanted to clear up any, well, let's just say misunderstandings stemming from last week's item concerning something Watkins said on The View, where he was joined by Moore and Johnnie Lindsey, who, with the CIU's assistance, was released from prison last September after serving 26 years for an aggravated sexual assault he didn't commit. The three were on the talk show to promote Dallas DNA, the second episode of which airs tonight at 9 p.m. on Investigation Discovery.
As you may recall, Watkins initially told Whoopi Goldberg and Barbara Walters that Governor Rick Perry hadn't signed Lindsey's pardon, meaning he had not yet been officially cleared of the crime he never committed, which made it impossible for Lindsey to get work. Then he called Unfair Park and said, well, he'd made a mistake on national TV: Perry had signed the pardon, only after Moore had submitted the paperwork "two months ago." Which Moore says isn't the case. At all. So here's her version of what happened and when, along with further thoughts about proposed legislation benefiting the wrongfully imprisoned.
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OK, that public defender -- me -- filed for the pardon as soon as she got the letters from the judge, the sheriff and Mr. Watkins. That pardon was filed at the end of October, [then] went to the Board of Pardons and Parole, where it was finally passed through the committee for approval for a pardon on January 30, 2009 -- 4 months later. From there, the pardon sat on Governor Perry's desk until April 24th.
On the issue of compensation, Johnnie has never run a business and not even had a checking account for the last 26 years. He loves to sew and is doing some odd-job tailoring for people at the moment. The man deserves some time to enjoy life.
It also looks like the health insurance and tuition may be off the table for the exonerees in the compensation bill. These guys are having an impossible time trying to get coverage. Most of the guys have developed some serious condition while in the penitentiary and are older now. Some are attending school while others are looking for jobs.