New Jersey Man Wrongfully Imprisoned for 24 Years Receives $2 Million Settlement

Trenton, NJ – Jean L. Dorval, a New Jersey resident who spent 24 years behind bars for a murder he did not commit, has reached a $2 million settlement with the state. The settlement, revealed in an unconditional release document notarized in April, stems from a lawsuit filed by Dorval in 2020. John Paff of TransparencyNJ first reported on the settlement.

Dorval’s legal action is ongoing against one of the police officers involved in his arrest for a homicide in Union County during the mid-’90s.

According to Dorval, he had evidence proving his absence from the crime scene when 19-year-old Richard Jerry Myers was killed in Elizabeth on March 20, 1994. He claimed to have been hundreds of miles away, with supporting documentation that included a hotel receipt from an overnight stay in Georgia and a speeding ticket issued in South Carolina.

Despite this evidence, Dorval alleged that law enforcement officers persisted in implicating him based on his Haitian ethnicity and the fact that he drove a car similar to the one reportedly seen at the time of the shooting, as documented in court papers reported by Paff.

In 1996, at the age of 23, Dorval was convicted by a jury along with two other men, Duquene Pierre and James Louis, and was subsequently sentenced to 70 years in prison. Pierre also had evidence supporting his alibi, including a South Carolina traffic ticket, a Georgia motel receipt, and phone records indicating their presence in Florida for nearly a week before returning home, as stated in a complaint filed in the lawsuit.

Dorval exhausted his appeals and had almost given up hope until Pierre won a new trial, was acquitted, and released in 2016 after serving 22 years in prison. Subsequently, Dorval’s own conviction was overturned in April 2018.

In 2020, James Louis, who had spent 26 years in prison, was also released after two witnesses admitted to lying about his involvement. He filed his own lawsuit in Union County Superior Court seeking compensation for wrongful conviction.

The $2 million settlement reached by Dorval with the state marks the second resolution arising from this case. Duquene Pierre previously sued the state and received a settlement of $950,000 in 2019, as reported by The National Registry of Exonerations.

As the legal proceedings continue, Dorval’s long battle for justice highlights the profound impact wrongful convictions can have on individuals and their lives.

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