Wrongful Convictions

No one should be incarcerated for a crime they did not commit.  Although you can never get back time spent in prison, the attorneys at Patterson Harkavy can work to ensure that any wrongdoer is held accountable for what led to your conviction.

A Record of Success

Wrongful conviction claims often involve complicated factual and legal questions, and can require years of litigation.  An experienced team of attorneys is critical to ensuring you receive the compensation you deserve.  At Patterson Harkavy, our attorneys have been involved in some of North Carolina’s highest profile wrongful convictions. In recent years, cases have settled for a total of more than $21,000,000.

In August 2016, Patterson Harkavy settled a case on behalf of Willie Grimes for $3,250,000, and in 2019, it settled a related case in state court for an additional recovery of more than $2,160,000.  Grimes had served 24 years in prison for a crime he did not commit.  His conviction was obtained after police officers destroyed crime scene evidence and failed to provide Grimes crime-scene fingerprints that did not match Grimes or the victim.  Beginning in 2003, Grimes’ representatives asked the Hickory Police Department to produce any evidence related to his case.  The Department still possessed the fingerprints, but did not produce them until 2011.  Grimes was exonerated after the fingerprints were found to match another man with a history of violent crime against women.  Two years of federal litigation demonstrated that the Hickory Police Department failed to disclose numerous pieces of evidence demonstrating criminal suspects’ innocence in multiple criminal investigations.  The subsequent suit in state court resulted in additional recovery based on an insurance company’s failure to properly defend the City of Hickory in the federal lawsuit.  Mr. Grimes’ total recovery exceeded $5,410,000.

In September 2013, Patterson Harkavy settled a case on behalf of Greg Taylor for $4,625,000. Taylor had served 17 years in prison for a crime he did not commit. His conviction was based on a state crime lab report that falsely indicated a connection between Taylor and the crime scene. Following Taylor’s exoneration, Patterson Harkavy attorneys filed a civil rights suit against the crime lab officials responsible for the misleading lab report. Three years of litigation confirmed that the lab had a long-standing practice of producing misleading reports.

In November 2013, Patterson Harkavy settled a case on behalf of Dwayne Dail for $7,520,000. Dail served 18 years in prison for a crime he did not commit. In 1995, Dail began requesting that crime-scene evidence be subjected to DNA testing, as was his statutory right. The Goldsboro Police Department inaccurately and repeatedly told Dail that all evidence had been destroyed. In 2007, a Goldsboro employee finally found an envelope containing evidence related to the crime. Dail was exonerated after DNA testing demonstrated his innocence. In litigating Dail’s civil claims against in federal district court, Patterson Harkavy defeated the city’s motion to dismiss and motion for summary judgment, eventually settling the case after three years of litigation.

Call us at 1 (800) 458-2541

Our attorneys continue to work with individuals who have been wrongfully convicted and organizations dedicated to securing their exoneration.  If you or a loved one has had a conviction overturned, we can help you understand your options and pursue the relief you deserve.  Contact us today to discuss your case.

Read more about our wrongful conviction work.