The Columbus Dispatch: Ohio man wins record-setting $45M in wrongful imprisonment lawsuit

Ohio Innocence Project client is vindicated with legal win

Dean Gillispie of Fairborn won a $45 million civil lawsuit against Miami Township, its former police detective Scott Moore and others for actions that led to Gillispie’s wrongful imprisonment. The suit alleged that evidence was suppressed and eyewitness identifications were tainted in the 1991 case against Gillispie. 

Gillispie, now 57, served 20 years behind bars before he was freed and his name cleared with the help of the Ohio Innocence Project at the University of Cincinnati, former Ohio Attorney General Jim Petro and Gillispie’s mother Juana Gillispie.

The Columbus Dispatch published a story on Gillispie’s successful civil lawsuit.

Mark Godsey, director of the Ohio Innocence Project, spoke with the newspaper about the proceedings. "The horror inflicted on Dean and his family and community is hard to wrap your mind around," Godsey told The Columbus Dispatch. "The way the authorities pushed through a conviction and then fought back and refused to admit a mistake was so disappointing. Nothing can repay Dean for the horror."

Gillispie added: "The jury's verdict sends a strong message that those in power need to change the way they do things."

Gillispie has spoken publicly about his wrongful incarceration and his ability to manage time through art. He was a speaker in July at the Marking Time: Art in the Age of Mass Incarceration symposium at UC Law.  The symposium was an initiative that aimed to explore the reach and impact of prisons on everyday life through a focus on art and culture.

Gillispie used discarded items to make scenes he dreamed about while behind bars. He made a model of his vision of traveling the legendary Route 66 highway crisscrossing America. One scene he constructed included a toaster-size trailer with a propane tank no bigger than your thumb during his incarceration. 

Gillispie spread cigarette-pack foil across notebook cardboard, and used pins taken from the prison sewing shop to hold the whole structure together. The window curtains, made from used tea bags, are partially closed. A tiny sign on the trailer door reads, in nearly microscopic ink script: gone fishing."

His art was on display during the summer at the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center in Cincinnati.

Additional media also covered Gillispie’s legal win.

WHIO-TV Dayton

Yahoo News

WCPO-TV Dayton

Learn more about Gillispie’s wrongful conviction case online.

Featured photo courtesy of Unsplash.

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