Friday, September 6, 2013
Bid for Payment for Wrongful Incarceration Is Resuscitated
Court of Appeal Says State Board Failed to Tell Factual, Legal Bases for Denial
By a MetNews Staff Writer
The state Victim Compensation and Government Claims Board improperly denied a $713,100 claim by a man who was incarcerated for 23 years before being released pursuant to a writ of habeas corpus, the Court of Appeal held yesterday, faulting the board for failing to state factual and legal bases for its decision.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Sanjay Kumar, sitting on assignment, wrote the opinion for Div. Five. It was not certified for publication.
The opinion reverses Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Gregory H. Lewis’s denial of a writ of mandate sought by Timothy Leon Atkins.
Tynan Grants Writ
Adkins was convicted in 1987 of a murder and robbery committed on New Year’s Eve in 1985. Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Michael Tynan on Feb. 8, 2007, granted his habeas corpus petition, finding that the recanted testimony upon which the conviction was based was unreliable.
Tynan declared at the time that “the state has no interest in upholding a conviction obtained by false testimony.” Adkins was freed the following day, after the state decided not to re-try him.
Kumar’s opinion instructs the Superior Court to issue a writ of mandate to the board, directing that it vacate its “Amended Notice of Decision”—in which it announced it was adopting the hearing officer’s decision—hold a new hearing, and come up with a decision in writing with factual findings and legal conclusions.
“Under Code of Civil Procedure section 1094.5, it is incumbent on the Board to render findings that are sufficient ‘both to enable the parties to determine whether and on what basis they should seek review and, in the event of review, to apprise a reviewing court of the basis for the [agency’s] action,’ ” Kumar wrote, adding:
“We conclude the Board’s failure to set forth its factual findings and legal conclusions in its Amended Notice of Decision is a fatal flaw. The Board’s written Amended Notice of Decision does not set forth any findings whatsoever and, at best, is ambiguous as to whether the Board adopted any or some of the factual findings and legal conclusions in the Proposed Decision in adopting the Hearing Officer’s ‘decision.’ ”
Kumar left it to the board to decide whether new evidence is to be presented at the hearing.
The case is Atkins v. Victim Compensation & Gov. Claims Bd., B240295.
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