Two Exonerated Louisville Men to Receive $20.5 Million For 22 Years Spent Behind Bars

(LOUISVILLE, KY) The law firms of Neufeld Scheck & Brustin, LLP and Loevy & Loevy today announced that Louisville has agreed to pay $20.5 million to their clients Keith Hardin and Jeffrey Clark, who each spent 22 years of their lives behind bars for a heinous murder they did not commit.

The settlement stems from egregious misconduct committed by officers from the Louisville Police Department, including disgraced former Louisville Metro Police detective Mark Handy. Still pending is the law firms’ civil case against two additional sets of defendants: the Meade County Sheriff’s office and the Kentucky State Police, whose officials’ misconduct contributed significantly to the wrongful convictions of Hardin and Clark in 1995.

Today’s settlement comes after the two national legal teams, working with Louisville attorney Larry D. Simon, brought a civil lawsuit in 2018 presenting overwhelming evidence of police misconduct and conspiracy to hide evidence in the 1992 murder investigation of Rhonda Sue Warford. Hardin and Clark were convicted of the murder in 1995 and exonerated in 2018 with the help of The Innocence Project and the Kentucky Innocence Project, which presented DNA evidence refuting the convictions.  The actual killer has never been brought to justice.

“Today’s settlement says loudly and clearly that Keith Hardin and Jeffrey Clark are innocent, and that Louisville detectives and supervisors responsible for this injustice will be held accountable,” said Nick Brustin, a partner in Neufeld Scheck & Brustin, LLP. “This is only the first step in Keith and Jeff’s journey toward justice, and we look forward to proving at trial the complicity of Meade County and the State forensic examiner.”

“Louisville’s current leadership is to be applauded for doing what they can to resolve the decades of injustice inflicted upon Jeff Clark and Keith Hardin,” said Elliot Slosar of Loevy & Loevy Attorneys at Law. “After years of litigation, the City of Louisville finally acknowledges in 20 million different ways that Jeff and Keith are innocent and that egregious police misconduct will no longer be tolerated.”

Throughout the 1990s, Detective Handy’s misconduct — including taping over of recorded evidence and outright fabrications – sent numerous innocent men to prison. Despite officials’ knowledge of and complicity in these wrongful convictions, Handy continued to be rewarded and even promoted to Deputy Sheriff. To their credit, after Handy’s misconduct was brought to light by The Innocence Project and the Kentucky Innocence Project, Louisville officials brought charges against him; he was convicted of perjury in 2021 and sentenced to a year in prison.

Jeffrey Clark is represented by attorneys Elliot Slosar, Arthur Loevy, Jon Loevy, Michael Kanovitz, Amy Robinson Staples and Margaret E. Campbell of the national civil rights law firm Loevy & Loevy Attorneys at Law, based in Chicago.

Keith Hardin is represented by the national civil rights law firm Neufeld Scheck & Brustin, LLP, based in New York; his legal team includes partners Nick Brustin and Anna Benvenutti Hoffmann and attorneys Katie McCarthyOwanaemi Briggs, and Sophia Villarreal; as well as local counsel Larry D. Simon, a criminal defense attorney based in Louisville.

A copy of Clark’s and Hardin’s lawsuit, Jeffrey Dewayne Clark and Garr Keith Hardin v. Louisville Jefferson County Metro Government, City of Louisville, Meade County, Louisville Metro Police Detectives Mark Handy, the Estate of Hope Greer, James Clark, Kelly Jones and Robert L. Ennis in their individual capacities, Louisville Metro Police Sergeants Charles Edelen, Jim Woosley in their individual capacities, Louisville Metro Police Major James W. Griffiths in his individual capacity, Meade County Sheriff Joseph Greer in his individual and official capacities, Meade County Sheriff’s Deputy Ernie Embry and Cliff Wise in their individual capacities, Meade County Coroner William Adams in his individual capacity, Kentucky State Medical Examiner George Nichols in his individual capacity, and Kentucky State Police Crime Lab, Case No 3:17-CV-419-GNS-CHL, can be found here [2].

Read coverage by WDRB-TV here.

Read coverage by WHAS-TV here.

Read coverage by the Associated Press here.

Read coverage by the New York Times here.

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