After losing it all, wrongly convicted man sues to get life back

SEATTLE --  One minute  James Simmons was a successful Information Tech contractor. The next, his life changed instantly, thanks to a dishonest King County Sheriff's deputy.

Simmons is a Seattle man who may be among the first of Washington's wrongly convicted to get more than just financial restitution, the Seattle Post-Intellingencer reported.

In November 2006 Simmons was arrested by King County Deputy James Schrimpsher, who claimed that he saw Simmons dealing cocaine at a University District bus stop.  A King County jury convicted Simmons of dealing cocaine, the PI reported.

Three months later, Schrimpsher was fired for lying about another U-District drug arrest and Schrimpsher's  dishonesty cost him his job.

Simmons was jailed for a year, lost his security clearance, job, friendships and the entire experience sent him on a downward path that lead to being homeless on Seattle streets. Simmons was unable to find a new job, the PI said.

Simmons has since been exonerated following a series of appeals. Now, he is suing under a new Washington state law that pays wrongly convicted inmates for their jail time.

Signed into law in May after winning unanimous approval from the state legislature, the law allows exonerated ex-cons to collect $50,000 for each year they were incarcerated and $25,000 for each year under Department of Corrections supervision, as well as attorney fees and, in some cases, college tuition waivers.