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News Release from Comptroller Susan Combs

For Immediate Release
June 30, 2011

Texas Comptroller Pleased to Announce $1.45 million Payment
to Anthony Graves

Also Calls for Study of Wrongful Imprisonment Compensation Statute

(AUSTIN) — Today Texas Comptroller Susan Combs paid Anthony Graves $1.45 million for the 18 years in which he was wrongfully imprisoned.  The payment was made after the passage and signing of House Bill 417. Several months ago, the Comptroller was unfortunately unable to approve an initial claim for compensation based on what is set in state law.  So work began to help Graves through the legislative process.

 “I am delighted we have been able to pay Anthony Graves the compensation he deserves for wrongful imprisonment,” Combs said.  “I directed my staff to draft language to amend the law and work with the Governor’s office, the Attorney General and Sen. Rodney Ellis to ensure Mr. Graves got the money to help him continue rebuilding his life.”

 In addition to today’s payment, Graves will receive monthly annuity checks beginning one year from now.

 “I want to thank Comptroller Combs for the leadership she showed in securing my claim,” said Graves.  “Though the initial denial of my claim was frustrating, I know the Comptroller had no choice. As we worked with the Comptroller on this issue, I realized she and her staff are committed to helping me make up for my years lost in prison. I commend the follow-through shown by those in Texas state government to grant my claim.  I also want to especially thank my lawyers Jeff Blackburn and Nicole Casarez, as well as many others, who never gave up on this fight and worked closely with Comptroller Combs.”

Combs also highlighted the need for the wrongful imprisonment compensation statute to be reviewed through a study or workgroup.   

“We have to follow what’s set in state law when reviewing applications for compensation,” Combs said.  “We have paid more than $41 million to about 70 people.  But the initial Anthony Graves application showed there are wrongfully imprisoned Texans who may not have the required legal documents as outlined in statute to receive compensation. So we hope to work with lawmakers and any interested groups to look at the compensation law and see how it can be improved.”

Members of the media may also contact Jeff Blackburn, Anthony Graves’s attorney, at (806) 341-6679.

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