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IRS backs off - wrongfully convicted man gets a break

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It seems like a pretty obvious concept: If the government pays you money in compensation for harming you, it shouldn't be able to take most of it back.

That was the issue at the heart of a case by the IRS, which was trying to snag more than $70,000 in taxes, interest and penalties from the $120,000 that Darby Tillis was paid for nine years of wrongful imprisonment.

Fortunately, the Center on Wrongful Convictions at the Northwestern University School of Law is reporting that the IRS last week agreed to back off.

DarbyTillis and co-defendant Perry Cobb went on trial five times for the murder of two men on the North Side of Chicago in 1977. They were sentenced to death, but their convictions were reversed and they were acquitted in 1986.

The IRS decision also applies to 49 other former Illinois prisoners who received a total of more than $6 million from the Illinois Court of Claims after they were exonerated. (The center points out it was instrumental in 37 of the 49 exonerations.)

Rob Warden, executive director of the center, said the case was handled for Tillis by Sam Tenenbaum at N.U.'s Bluhm Legal Clinic.

"It was a sweet footnote in a long and tragic case," Warden said in an e-mail.

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This page contains a single entry by Thomas Frisbie published on October 28, 2010 1:43 PM.

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