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Trio wrongly imprisoned would get relief via claims bill passed by House

Each year, a joint House-Senate Subcommittee on Claims decides which claims against the state it should fund.

This year’s bill calls for $813,315 in payments in fiscal year 2023 to three people who sought relief under the Imprisonment and Exoneration Remedies Act which provides a compensation process for cases where a person was exonerated of a felony for which they were wrongfully incarcerated.

Sponsored by Rep. Mary Murphy (DFL-Hermantown), HF4670 was passed 83-43 by the House Thursday and sent to the Senate where Sen. Bruce Anderson (R-Buffalo Township) is the sponsor.

The awards would be:

  • $423,212 to Benjamin Hill, who was wrongfully imprisoned/on supervised release for five years;
  • $225,000 to Joseph Livingston, who spent two years and seven days in prison; and
  • $165,103 to Bryan Bemboom, who served 23 months in prison.  

According to the bill summary, “Bemboom was convicted of second, third, and fifth degree controlled substances crimes based on drugs that a passenger in his vehicle had hidden on her. Minnesota Court of Appeals reversed his conviction holding that the evidence was insufficient to support the conviction. The claimant’s conviction was vacated.

“… Hill was found guilty of two counts of possession of a firearm by an ineligible person and he was sentenced to 60 months. Five and a half years later, the district court found "by a preponderance of evidence that the DNA was planted in this case." Based on this, the district court granted the claimant's motion for a new trial. On December 10, 2018, the state dismissed the complaint.

“… Livingston pleaded guilty to operating a motor vehicle while knowingly under the influence of a hazardous substance. Livingston’s blood had tested positive for 1,1-Difluoroethane. Claimant was sentenced to 62 months. In 2017, the Minnesota Supreme Court held that 1,1-Difluoroethane was not a hazardous substance under Minnesota’s impaired driving statute. Under that precedent, claimant filed a postconviction relief petition. Claimant's conviction was vacated.”

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