The decision is entirely Mr. Green's, but the much-more generous compensation statute now in place in Texas would get him his money quicker and the lifetime annuity associated with it would make sure he's taken care of going forward.
Just like anybody else who first gets out of prison after a long stretch, a lot of exonerees have great difficulty adjusting when they first reenter the free world, which in Green's case is a radically different than when he went in 27 years ago during Ronald Reagan's first term. If he sues, Green may have to wait years before seeing a dime, and for each dime he wins, of course, he'd likely share 4 cents with his attorney before cutting in Uncle Sam. At the old, lower compensation levels many exonerees felt like the state didn't pay enough money to preclude suing; lately most have been taking the state compensation. OTOH, some folks who sue win more, while for others it doesn't work out so well It's a personal decision that has to be made by each, individual. I wish Mr. Green all the luck in the world in making the right choice for him.
The Times portrays Green's case as a classic example of faulty eyewitness identification overturned by DNA evidence:
Mr. Green, 45, was set free by a state judge two weeks ago after DNA tests on the rape victim’s clothing proved that he could not have been responsible for the crime. His exoneration was the work of a new unit in the Harris County district attorney’s office dedicated to reviewing claims of innocence.Stories like this only make me angrier still that Texas' eyewitness ID legislation got mowed down last session thanks to the ignominious Voter ID debate.
The story of Mr. Green’s nightmarish imprisonment — and how a prosecutor, Alicia O’Neill, eventually unearthed biological evidence that led to the real culprits — throws a harsh spotlight on an uncomfortable reality in American justice: the identification of a suspect in a lineup or in an array of photos is not always reliable.
More than three-quarters of the 258 people exonerated by DNA tests in the last decade were convicted on the strength of eyewitness identifications, according to the Innocence Project, the Manhattan-based organization dedicated to freeing innocent prisoners.
In Texas, the problem is even more acute: identifications by eyewitnesses played a pivotal role in 80 percent of the 40 people who have been exonerated with DNA evidence.
I am glad to see the Harris DA's Office getting credit in the national press for her office's recent work on the subject, and glad to see that some DA's office insiders are developing some personal and institutional stakes in making exonerating innocents as important a priority as convicting the guilty. “'It’s what you go to law school for,' Ms. O’Neill said of the moment Mr. Green walked out of jail."