Spring 2014

Imprisoned, Exonerated — and Now an “Unsecured Creditor”

Dwayne Provience shaking hands
The Michigan Innocence Clinic won Dwayne Provience’s exoneration in 2010.

One of the most surprising names on the list of Detroit’s unsecured creditors is a man who has become accustomed to getting a raw deal.

Dwayne Provience spent almost a decade in prison before the Michigan Innocence Clinic at the U-M Law School won his exoneration in 2010. He filed a civil lawsuit against the city, and a settlement panel proposed a payment of $5 million.

“The city either had to agree to pay, or go to trial—risking exposure of police misconduct, and a potentially larger damages award,” Imran Syed, ’11, a clinical fellow and staff attorney at the Michigan Innocence Clinic, wrote in a December article in Slate.

“It seemed like justice, finally, for Provience. But then came Detroit’s bankruptcy. His lawsuit is now in limbo—which means that for the foreseeable future, he will get nothing,” wrote Syed, who also is working on a documentary about the Provience case. “Through no fault of his own, he has been shortchanged again.”

Records that clinic students found while researching Provience’s case included a file from another murder case that revealed “that police should have known Provience was innocent even as the state was prosecuting him,” Syed wrote in Slate.

Due to the city’s bankruptcy, Syed wrote, Providence waits his turn in a long line of unsecured creditors “to eventually settle his claim for pennies on the dollar.”