FOX Files: Wrongfully imprisoned man wins $800,000 in restitution

Missouri

ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. – Johnny Briscoe, who was wrongfully imprisoned for decades, wins fight for restitution.

The first check of $36,000 is ordered to be paid immediately to a man wrongfully imprisoned, with $36,000 checks following every year for more than 20 more years, totaling more than $800,000.

The payments are not transferable and will not continue if Briscoe dies. He will be 90 when the last payment is scheduled.

Briscoe spent more than two decades in prison for a crime he did not commit.

Missouri law says in cases like Briscoe’s the Missouri Department of Corrections owes them $100 for every day they were wrongfully imprisoned. The Missouri Attorney General’s Office fought the payments saying Briscoe did not ask in time. A new judge’s order says there is no statute of limitations.

Fox 2 first covered Johnny Briscoe’s case in 2006. He’d just been cleared of rape and robbery, based on DNA evidence and held a news conference with his attorneys back then.

“It’s been a long struggle, hard struggle, but I held strong,” he said at the time.

Briscoe hasn’t said why he waited 15 years to ask for payback, but his delay was a sticking point between the Missouri Attorney General’s Office, which argued he waited too long – and the St. Louis County Prosecutor’s office which countered that the law doesn’t limit when Briscoe could ask for restitution.

Judge Michael Burton agreed. In a five-page ruling, he wrote, “The court finds there is no explicit statute of limitation in the statutory cause of action under 650.058 RSMo. within which to file a petition for restitution.”

“I think the court got it right,” St. Louis County Prosecutor Wesley Bell said, “We talked to you about that just a few weeks ago – this is not only the legally correct ruling, but I think from a common sense standpoint it’s the correct ruling.”

Dana Mulhauser argued the prosecutor’s office position in court, on behalf of the unit she leads – called the Conviction and Incident Review Unit.

“I don’t want to say I’m happy because it’s deserved. It’s deserved and it’s merited,” she said.

She added that she is “relieved for Mr. Briscoe’s sake and for the sake of the justice system. I think it was a just result and a smart result.”

Briscoe has been unavailable to comment since Fox 2 spoke to him after his 2006 release.

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