$45M wrongful conviction verdict, highest in state history, awarded by Ohio jury to wrongfully incarcerated artist

Artist and Fairborn, OH resident Dean Gillispie was wrongfully convicted in 1991 after former Miami Township Officer Matthew Scott Moore suppressed exculpatory evidence. Gillispie wrongly served 20 years in prison before being exonerated and later declared a wrongfully imprisoned person by the State of Ohio.

DAYTON, OH, 11/21/22 – Minutes ago an Ohio federal jury awarded $45 million to a wrongfully convicted man, artist and Fairborn, OH resident Dean Gillispie, in one of the largest civil rights awards in Ohio history. The jury found that former Miami Township police detective Matthew Scott Moore unconstitutionally suppressed exculpatory evidence that caused the 20 years wrongful imprisonment of Mr. Gillispie.

Mr. Gillispie and his attorneys from Loevy & Loevy Attorneys at Law will speak today at a 2:30 PM press conference today in the lobby of the Walter H. Rice Federal Building and U.S. Courthouse, 202 W. Second Street, Dayton. The case is 3:13-cv-00413 and can be found here.

The jury found that former Miami Township detective Scott Moore violated Mr. Gillispie’s due process rights by suppressing exculpatory evidence and contaminating the eyewitness identifications that led to his 1991 wrongful conviction. The evidence at trial showed that Moore contaminated the investigation by creating unfair lineup procedures, claiming a witness had made an identification when she had not, and even later saying they might not recognize Gillispie in court because he “dyed his hair.” Evidence was also presented that Detective Moore failed to disclose camping receipts showing Gillispie could not have committed two of the crimes because he was in Kentucky when they occurred.  

Mr. Gillispie was convicted in 1991 and released from prison in 2011 following extensive efforts of the Ohio Innocence Project and his mother, Juana Gillispie. In 2021, Judge Susan Solle of the Montgomery County Court of Common Pleas declared Gillispie to be a wrongfully imprisoned person. Mr. Gillispie steadfastly maintained his innocence from the day he was arrested to the present. Mr. Gillispie now serves on the Ohio Innocence Project’s Board of Advocates, working with the organization to fight for the release of other wrongfully imprisoned Ohioans.

Incarcerated at 24 years old and released 20 years later, Gillispie’s friends built careers and families while he experienced the unspeakable horrors of prison. His friends and family testified to how prison has affected Dean and his family. His parents, now elderly, borrowed significant amounts of money against their house, and are still in debt from the 30 years of legal fights.

Gillispie turned to creating art to keep himself calm amidst the pain, death, and grief he witnessed in prison. His works, spanning artistic mediums, dealt with the grief of maintaining innocence in a system that didn’t believe him and imagined what he might be doing if he weren’t incarcerated. In 2020, Gillispie’s miniature model of a camping trailer, painstakingly built over years in prison, was included in the “Marking Time: Art in the Age of Mass Incarceration” exhibition at MoMa PS1. The “Marking Time” exhibition is currently traveling around the U.S.

After more than 30 years of trying to clear his name, Gillispie and his family were crying as the courtroom deputy read from a verdict form that proclaimed the jury’s finding that Moore created unreliable identifications and suppressed material evidence. Dean Gillispie is represented by his attorneys, David B. Owens, Mike Kanovitz, and Megan Porter, assisted by paralegals Valerie Barajas and Matt Thibodeau, all of Loevy & Loevy Attorneys at Law.  Loevy & Loevy is one of the nation’s largest civil rights law firms, and over the past decade has won more multi-million dollar jury verdicts than any other civil rights law firm in the country. A copy of the suit, Dean Gillispie v. Miami Township & Matthew Scott Moore, case no. 3:13-cv-00413 in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio, is available here.

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