New Orleans to Pay Highest Settlement on Record to John Floyd Freed from Prison After 36 Years

NSB has won a $5.5 million settlement on behalf of John Floyd, who was wrongfully sentenced to life in Angola prison for the 1980 stabbing death of William Hines. A federal judge overturned his conviction in 2017, after finding “that Floyd has met the demanding standard of actual innocence.” The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld that ruling in 2018, agreeing that Mr. Floyd was denied a fair trial and there was extensive evidence of his innocence.

According to the Times-Picayune, the settlement is several times larger than those in other suits for wrongful convictions in Orleans Parish in recent years.

As detailed in NSB’s complaint, filed in 2019, Mr. Floyd was wrongfully convicted after New Orleans police fabricated nearly identical false confessions to two separate murders and then took advantage of Mr. Floyd’s intellectual deficits to coerce him into signing them. Not only did no physical or forensic evidence implicate Mr. Floyd, but fingerprint evidence in the NOPD’s possession excluded him as the perpetrator. However, the NOPD hid that exculpatory evidence for decades; when it was eventually uncovered, it led to Mr. Floyd’s release. The NOPD also failed to discipline even serious misconduct by officers and detectives, sending a message that this was tolerated. Lead investigator NOPD Homicide Detective John Dillmann was responsible for at least three other wrongful convictions during this time period. His misconduct in yet another case was the focus of Supreme Court case Kyles v. Whitley, 514 U.S. 419 (1995).

Mr. Floyd was represented by NSB partners Emma Freudenberger and Anna Benvenutti Hoffmann, NSB Counsel Katie McCarthy and NSB Johnnie L. Cochran Fellow Sophia Villarreal with case support from NSB Paralegal Lucia Geng. New Orleans attorney John Adcock and attorneys with the Lathrop GPM firm of Kansas City served as co-counsel in representing Mr. Floyd.

The case is captioned “JD (‘John’) Floyd v. Detective John Dillmann; Detective Michael Rice; Lieutenant Stephen London; The City of New Orleans; Leon Cannizzaro, Jr., in his official capacity; and John Doe Defendants, Case 2:19-cv-08769 filed in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana.

Read more about the case on (note: content is behind a paywall).

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