(The Center Square) – The three-person Board of Public Works has approved payouts of more than $2.57 million to two Maryland residents cleared of wrongdoing in a pair of disparate cases in court settlements.

At its most recent meeting on October 26, the board – which includes a trio of top-level state officials – issued payouts of more than $2.52 million to Paul Madison and a $50,000 payout to Anna Borkowski.

Madison, sentenced in 1991 to more than 30 years in prison after he was convicted of murder from an incident the year prior, had his sentence vacated by a Baltimore judge.

Borkowski filed a 2018 lawsuit against the Baltimore County Prosecutors’ Office and Baltimore Police Department on allegations her First Amendment rights were violated in a sexual assault case. A settlement was reached in September.

Board members did not discuss the extensive settlement to Madison, though state Treasurer Dereck Davis, who sits on the panel, weighed in on Borkowski’s payout.

“If we would just do our jobs, stay in our lane, we would not be giving away $50,000 of the people’s money,” Davis said. “When we you read the details of this settlement, this should not have occurred.”

He added, “As a result, the people of Maryland are paying for something that shouldn’t have happened. Hopefully, we won’t be in this position again.”

Lt. Gov. Boyd Rutherford, who attended the most recent board meeting in Gov. Larry Hogan’s absence, spoke more generally about which entity foots the bill for the payouts – the state – and called on legislators to tweak the practice so it lands more squarely on local governing bodies within Maryland.

“I don’t understand why it’s not the locale and the state’s attorney’s office in that jurisdiction that is not paying for this,” Rutherford said. “It was a local jury, the local state’s attorney, that convicted an individual erroneously. Now all the taxpayers are paying for it.”

Madison was released in late 2021 in response to a 2019 law that allowed prosecutors to request a sentence be vacated for the cause. Ultimately, Madison’s 1991 conviction was overturned based on uncorroborated testimony from a jailhouse informant.

The terms of his Board of Public Works-approved payout to Madison – deemed “compensation to erroneously confined individual” in meeting documents – include $2.37 million in overall payment and the reimbursement of $68,000 in attorney’s fees.

Additionally, Madison will receive $84,900 from several state agencies – including the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development – for a housing benefit.

Borkowski’s case stems from a 2018 lawsuit against Baltimore County, local law enforcement authorities, and the University of Maryland on allegations authorities mishandled sexual assault complaints against three male baseball players within the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.

Initially, Borkowski was part of a class-action lawsuit that ultimately was dismissed in a U.S. District Court. But Borkowski’s solo case did proceed on the merits. Her First Amendment rights were violated on allegations police detectives dissuaded her from filing sexual assault charges.

Borkowski’s $50,000 settlement pertains to “all claims, including attorneys’ fees, as in the best interest of the state,” according to documents included in the board packet.

David Fidlin

The Center Square contributor

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