Boston's recent settlements are especially notable, because successfully proving liability for a civil rights violation is unusual in these types of cases, says Howard Friedman, the attorney who represented Miller. A similar federal suit brought by Donnell Johnson, who served six years for the murder of nine-year-old Jermaine Goffigan before being exonerated, was unsuccessful; a judge blamed BPD detectives for withholding information, but ruled that the actions did not rise to the level of willful violation of Johnson’s civil rights. And just this week, an Illinois jury decided against a wrongfully convicted man in his civil lawsuit, even though he spent 27 years in prison before being DNA evidence led to his pardon.

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David S. Bernstein's Boston homicide coverage:

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