Washington county ordered to pay $9 million to man who served 20 years because of fabricated evidence

By Angela Underwood | May 25, 2017

SAN FRANCISCO (Legal Newsline) – Clark County, Washington, must pay a man $9 million dollars for a two-decade prison sentence he served based on fabricated evidence.

Clyde Spencer, who was convicted in 1985 for alleged statutory rape of his children and exonerated 20 years later, had his original 2014 ruling of $9 million reinstated May 19 in an order passed down by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

Judges Benjamin H. Settle, Susan P. Graber, Sandra S. Ikuta and Andrew D. Hurwitz reversed the district court’s judgment. Spencer was charged with multiple felonies based on evidence submitted by then-Detective Sharon Krause and her supervisor Sgt. Michael Davidson.

“The Clark County detective deliberately fabricated evidence against him and continued her criminal investigation despite knowing that plaintiff was innocent,” reads the order. 

With no recourse to prove his innocence, Spencer entered an Alford plea in 1985 and was sentenced to two life terms, including an additional 14 years.

Found innocent in 2009, after Gov. Gary Locke deemed Spencer not guilty due to a flawed investigation, Spencer withdrew his Alford plea and all charges were against him were wiped out by 2010. However, “the district court granted judgment as a matter of law to defendants on the grounds that plaintiff failed to introduce evidence that defendant knew or should have known of plaintiff’s innocence,” according to the order.

Within a year, Spencer filed civil action and a jury of his peers heard out his claims 14th Amendment right violation by Krause for falsifying facts and conspiracy against Davidson for assisting in said fabrication. Spencer won for two applicable claims, which totaled $9 million.

“After trial, the district court granted judgment as a matter of law to Defendants on the ground that plaintiff had introduced insufficient evidence to prove that Krause knew or should have known that plaintiff was innocent,” reads the order.

In February 2014, the Clark County Board of Commissioners unanimously denied the jury decision, but that changed last week when the panel of judges reversed the decision “instructions to enter judgment for Plaintiff consistent with the jury’s verdict,” according to the opinion.

When denied the $9 million in 2014, the plaintiff prophetically told The Columbian he would see the money awarded him, and “he’s not surprised the county refuses to pay and has confidence his attorney will prevail in court,” according to the news report.

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