Millions expected in wrongful conviction settlement
San Francisco is expected to approve a $3.5 million settlement in a case of wrongful double murder conviction that put Caramad Conley behind bars for 18 years.
The Board of Supervisors must still sign off on the settlement, which was recommended by City Attorney Dennis Herrera, the San Francisco Chronicle reported this weekend.
The settlement has already been signed by Police Chief Greg Suhr and the City’s Police Commission.
Conley was incarcerated in 1992, and sentenced to two terms of life without parole in 1994 for the double murder of Roshawn Johnson and Charles Hughes. Prosecutors said the drive-by shooting, which took place in 1989 and left 11 others injured, was gang-related.
Conley was released in 2011, after San Francisco Superior Court Judge Marla Miller found that he had been wrongly convicted. Miller found that one of the prosecution’s witnesses, Clifford Polk, had committed perjury on the witness stand.
The lead police investigator in the case, Earl Sanders, who later became police chief, had been giving Polk weekly payments totaling tens of thousands of dollars, according to one of Conley’s lawyers in the lawsuit.
Polk, who said in the trial that Conley had confessed to the killings, lied on the stand about whether he was currently in witness protection and therefore whether he was being paid.
Miller said Sanders had stood by in court while the perjury had taken place, writing:
“I find that Sanders knew the testimony was false and did not correct it.”
Conley filed a civil rights lawsuit in 2012 against The City and Sanders. In the lawsuit, Conley said that police had:
“… unconstitutionally and maliciously sent him to prison for a crime he did not commit [by] willfully suppressing a mountain of exculpatory evidence showing that the linchpin witness against him, Clifford Polk, had been paid thousands of dollars and received other benefits in exchange for his testimony.”
Sanders was also involved in another wrongful murder conviction suit, in which the City paid a $7.5 million civil settlement to defendants Antoine Goff and John Tennison, who were released in 2003 after both spending over 10 years incarcerated.
In that case, prosecutors and police, including Sanders, had information that implied that another person could have committed the crime, but did not disclose that information to the court.