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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Haridopolos claims victory on Dillon claims bill



Photo(6)This time, there were happy tears that Senate President Mike Haridopolos suppressed as the Florida Senate finalized legislation awarding a wrongly convicted man $1.35 million.

William Dillon, 52, was convicted of murder and served 27 years in prison before his release. The claims bill, SB 2, was a top priority of Haridopolos, who celebrated the victory Thursday with an emotional speech on the Senate floor.

“When there are people in prison who’ve been wronged, who should have never been there, we need to stand up as a Legislature and do what’s right,” Haridopolos, R-Merritt Island, said.

Dillon, of Satellite Beach, was in the gallery Thursday to witness the Senate’s vote to concur with the House version of the legislation. (The pictures shows Haridopolos greeting Dillon shortly after.)

Dillon was tearful, too, saying how appreciative he was of those who championed his case over the years, ensuring his freedom and now compensation from the state. He gave much of the credit to Haridopolos.

“He’s amazing,” Dillon said. “He really is.”

Haridopolos indicated he would sign the legislation today and ask House Speaker Dean Cannon to do the same so that hopefully Dillon can watch Gov. Rick Scott sign the claims bill into law before he leaves Tallahassee.

The measure is the first claims bill this year to clear both chambers. Many others are still pending.

[Last modified: Thursday, March 1, 2012 11:20am]


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