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House committee moves bill that would lengthen statute of limitations for wrongly convicted 

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House committee moves bill that would lengthen statute of limitations for wrongly convicted 

Feb 20, 2024 | 1:53 pm ET
By Deena Winter
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House committee moves bill that would lengthen statute of limitations for wrongly convicted聽
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Marvin Haynes testified Tuesday before a House committee on a bill that would make it easier for wrongly convicted people to try to get their convictions overturned, as he did. Photo by Deena Winter/Minnesota Reformer

A House committee moved a bill Tuesday that would give wrongly convicted people a better chance at freedom. 

The bill (HF2400/SF2597) would give a convicted person their day in court and a shot at release if new evidence is found more than two years after their conviction. Currently, most petitions for relief must be brought within two years.

The bill author, Rep. Cedrick Frazier, DFL-New Hope, said Marvin Haynes is a prime example of someone who would benefit from such a law. He was arrested at age 16 and convicted of murder, but was released in December at age 35 after a judge ruled the eyewitness evidence used to convict him was unreliable.

Haynes testified before the committee, tearfully recounting how he spent nearly 20 years in prison. He became emotional while talking about how his mother had a stroke and lost her ability to communicate while he was imprisoned.

The Hennepin County Attorney’s Office took the unusual step of waiving the two-year statute of limitations. Otherwise, he’d still be in prison. 

“There are more Marvin Haynes,” he told the committee. “But without changing our law, they will continue to wait and miss out on life and important moments, and our community will miss out on their gifts and contributions.” 

He has since gotten a job and applied for a license and said he wants to make sure nobody else experiences the same injustice.

The committee chair, Rep. Jamie Becker-Finn, DFL-Roseville, apologized to Haynes, saying, “This should not have happened.”

On a voice vote, the House Judiciary Finance and Civil Law Committee forwarded the bill on to a public safety committee.

The bill is part of the Democratic-Farmer-Labor party’s continuing overhaul of criminal justice laws.