Patterson Harkavy obtained a $4,000,000 partial settlement for Joseph Sledge, an innocent man who served 37 years in prison for a crime he did not commit.
Mr. Sledge was wrongfully convicted of a double homicide in 1978. In January of 2015, thanks to the hard work of the North Carolina Center on Actual Innocence, he was released from prison after a three-judge panel unanimously found that he was innocent.
Patterson Harkavy filed suit on behalf of Mr. Sledge in 2015. The suit alleged that while Mr. Sledge was trying to prove his innocence, the Bladen County Sheriff's Office, the Columbus County Clerk of Court, and the State Bureau of Investigation repeatedly failed to produce evidence in its possession showing that Mr. Sledge had not committed the crime.
With today's partial settlement, Mr. Sledge has resolved his claims against the Bladen County Sheriff's Office. He continues to pursue his claims against the SBI and the Columbus County Clerk's Office.
Patterson Harkavy attorney Burton Craige released the following statement:
For years, Joseph Sledge begged the Bladen County Sheriff’s Office, the SBI, and the Columbus County Clerk’s Office to release the evidence that would prove his innocence. For years they refused, defying four court orders. Finally, in January 2015, thanks to the extraordinary efforts of Chris Mumma, the North Carolina Center on Actual Innocence, and the North Carolina Innocence Inquiry Commission, Mr. Sledge was exonerated and released, having spent 37 years in prison for crimes he did not commit. Mr. Sledge then sued those who refused to produce the evidence that exonerated him. With this settlement, Bladen County has taken responsibility. Now the SBI and the Columbus County Clerk’s Office need to do the same.