Drug Charge Could Cost Dallas Co. DNA Exoneree Millions

DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – A felony drug charge could cost a Dallas County DNA exoneree millions.

Under Texas law Steven Phillips is paid $80,000 a year for his wrongful conviction. But there’s another part of that law — he loses the money if he’s convicted of a felony.

Last week Phillips, 53, was arrested for drug possession. His attorney, Bob Bragalone says it’s unfair to take away the annuity for a crime that has nothing to do with the wrongful conviction.

“Steven Phillips served 25 and a half years for crimes he didn’t commit, that he was exonerated from DNA evidence. This is apples to oranges.”

Bragalone said legislators might have overstepped their bounds with the future crimes caveat in the payment agreement.

“Perhaps they went too far because there are some crimes that are punishable as a felony, like controlled substance, that has nothing to do with the crimes they were originally charged with and later exonerated from.”

Phillips was wrongfully convicted for a sex crime. “This is possession of a controlled substance apparently and I can only imagine if someone had served 25 and a half years in prison for crimes they didn’t commit they might take up a few bad habits along the way,” said Bragalone.

While Phillips received a $2.5 million lump sum payment half of that went to lawyers and not the one who help free him. The legal bill of more than $1 million is from a Lubbock law firm hired in the suit against the City of Dallas for wrongful imprisonment. The firm had a contingency fee of 25-percent of any award.

Earlier this year Phillips and another man filed suit against the firm arguing the fees were excessive.


One Comment

  1. Incredulous says:

    I think the law is completely fair. Give me a break! The man was in prison for all of those years; presumably, if he was addicted to anything upon entry, he would have long since kicked the habit. So, he gets out of prison, is paid a handsome $80,000 a year, giving him plenty to live a nice, sedate life, and instead, he goes and gets into drugs. He knew or should have known the rules regarding his $80 grand a year. He chose to jeopardize the money by getting high. Stupid. Welcome back to prison, sir.

  2. Quit Whinning says:

    Sorry but he had to sign an agreement when he was released that said he would lose the money if he was ever arrested for a felony.So, QUIT WHINING

  3. Margo Conder says:

    The majority of people “exonerated” were suspects for a real reason. Our system may have failed for that specific crime; but the odds are that they (hopefully) would have been jail during the same time for a different crime—look at their history. So, yes, if they are have a real second chance and a law is voiliated, then retribution is no longer earned–Period.

  4. mary says:

    Wow… noone even considers that he is innocent until proven guilty —

  5. Josh says:

    what is 25 years of your and your son and daughters lives worth to you??????? the answer is priceless.. The law is the law but it was wrong the first time so why not take the money back the first chance we get right this is pothetic give him a reasonable fine like everyone else and lets move on. i might be a little partial concidering this is my uncle steve but it sounds like the law is embarrased because they were proven wrong!!!!!

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