Matthew Splitek Advocates for Pro Bono Client Before Wisconsin Supreme Court
Madison, Wis. -- Matthew Splitek, a Madison-based Quarles & Brady partner in the Litigation & Dispute Resolution Practice Group, appeared before the Wisconsin Supreme Court yesterday, representing a pro bono client who is seeking additional wrongful conviction compensation.
In 1993, Derrick Sanders was wrongly convicted of first-degree intentional homicide as party to a crime. He served 26 years in prison before a circuit court vacated his conviction in 2018.
Sanders appeared before the state’s Claims Board, asking the board to award him the maximum of $25,000 that the board can pay on its own, and to recommend that the legislature award him additional compensation for his 26 years in prison. The board only awarded the $25,000, without addressing Sanders’ request for additional compensation or offering any explanation as to why it wasn’t addressed.
The Supreme Court agreed to hear the case to determine if the Claims Board was obligated to address Sanders’ claim for additional compensation.
In an excerpt from a Wisconsin Public Radio story about the hearing before the Supreme Court, Splitek explained Sanders’ position:
Matthew Splitek, attorney for Sanders, argued the board is required to offer some process of reasoning behind why they chose the compensation that they did.
"Whether it's the maximum or not, they need to offer some explanation, so there is a process of reasoning evidenced in the record that the circuit court and, if necessary, the appellate courts can review," he said.
Splitek asked the justices to return the case to the circuit court and ultimately the state Claims Board so that it can clearly state what equitable compensation should be for Sanders. He said it is up to the board to make that determination, regardless of whether the total exceeds the amount they are allowed to award.