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Jeff Deskovic: Exonerated at 32, still feeling 17

Posted: February 4, 2007

A New York Times article today profiles Jeff Deskovic, who was freed in September, 2006 after serving 15 years for a murder he didn't commit.

Read the full story. (New York Times, 02/04/07, free subscription required)

More information on Jeff Deskovic:


Tags: New York, Jeff Deskovic



Op-Ed: New York needs to preserve evidence

Posted: June 15, 2007 11:25 am

In today’s Buffalo News, 2006 exoneree Alan Newton writes that a wrongful conviction condemned him to a cage for the prime years of his life, and that his incarceration lasted longer than it should have due to mistakes in cataloguing of evidence by the New York City Police Department.

The DNA evidence that eventually proved my innocence was initially reported as lost or damaged. For years before my exoneration last July, I asked the State of New York and the New York Police Department to produce the evidence they had collected. I requested a search for the evidence three times; each time I was told that it could not be found.

In 2004, the Innocence Project accepted my case and requested one final search for the evidence. Imagine my surprise when I learned that the rape kit was found in the exact spot where it was supposed to be all along. There are hundreds of others like (Anthony) Capozzi and me — people with credible claims of innocence that could be proven by DNA, but in many cases, the biological evidence will never be found. In a sense, we are the lucky ones.

Read the full article here. (Buffalo News, 06/15/07, Payment required for full article)
Newton also writes about Buffalo exoneree Anthony Capozzi, whose evidence was found this year in a hospital drawer, leading to DNA testing that proved his innocence after he had served 20 years in prison for a crime he didn’t commit.

Issue in focus: Evidence Preservation Reforms Nationwide

Tags: New York, Anthony Capozzi, Alan Newton, Evidence Preservation



NY Post: NYPD has serious evidence problems

Posted: May 14, 2007

An article in Sunday's New York Post chronicled serious missteps by the New York Police Department in evidence collection and storage that have caused countless cases to remain unsolved and have also led to wrongful convictions. This issue was highlighted by the exoneration last year of New Yorker Alan Newton, who was told evidence in his case was lost for a decade before police found it. Most evidence collected by New York police is currently stored in 55-gallon barrels at a Queens warehouse and signed in and out by hand in log books.

The NYPD says it is working to address the problem by January 2008. The department is currently accepting proposals for a computerized system to track evidence.

"Hundreds of cases are in serious jeopardy because evidence has been misplaced, mishandled," one detective said. "Right now, off the top of my head, I can think of 12 rape cases where evidence cannot be found to send to independent labs."

"Anything that brings this system into this century is welcome," (another detective) said.

Read the full story here. (New York Post, 5/13/07)
Last week, the Innocence Project and leading New York legislators announced proposals for sweeping changes to the way evidence is preserved in New York state, among other important reforms. Read more here.

Read more about evidence preservation reforms nationwide.

Tags: New York, Alan Newton, Evidence Preservation



Doug Warney marks one year of freedom

Posted: May 21, 2007

One year ago, Doug Warney was freed from a New York prison after serving nine years for a murder he didn’t commit. In an article published last week in the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle and an accompanying video, Warney discusses the struggles of adjusting to life after exoneration and dealing with the effects of this grave injustice.

Even as he savors freedom, Warney cannot stop thinking about time wasted in prison during a life that might be cut short by the AIDS virus, which continues to chip away at his health.
"It still dwells in my mind, what they did to me.

"What the system did to me was totally wrong, and that's something I have to live with for the rest of my life now," Warney said.
Read the full article here. (Rochester Democrat & Chronicle, 5/15/07)
Watch a video of Warney and relatives celebrating his first year of freedom.

Read more about Warney’s case.

Tags: New York, Douglas Warney



NY Times: Spitzer's DNA proposal needs revision

Posted: May 29, 2007

A package of legislation supported by New York Gov. Elliot Spitzer was approved by the state Senate last week and is currently pending in the Assembly, but another package of reforms in the Assembly goes further to prevent wrongful convictions and protect the rights of defendants.

On Friday night, Speaker Sheldon Silver and Assemblyman Joseph R. Lentol, both New York City Democrats, introduced their own bill that would expand the DNA database to all misdemeanors, as the governor proposed in his bill this month. Currently DNA samples are collected from people convicted of all felonies and a few misdemeanors.
But the assemblymen felt the governor did not go far enough in ensuring that DNA would be used to exonerate those wrongly imprisoned as well as to convict the guilty. DNA evidence has led to 23 exonerations in New York State, according to the Innocence Project, a legal clinic affiliated with the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law at Yeshiva University. The state has had a DNA database since 2000.

Read the full story here. (New York Times, 5/28/07)

And a New York Times editorial yesterday said proposed reforms need better safeguards to allow the wrongfully convicted to file appeals.
Gov. Eliot Spitzer is right to want to expand New York State’s use of DNA evidence to solve crimes and exonerate the innocent. But, disappointingly, his proposed plan includes an unrelated — and unworthy — new provision that would seriously undermine his declared goal of minimizing injustice.

Read the full editorial here. (New York Times, 5/28/07)
The Innocence Project is working with legislators to ensure that reforms reflect the lessons of DNA exonerations and meaningfully improve the criminal justice system, and we will post updates in this space throughout the week.

Tags: New York, Access to DNA Testing



Hearing today on DNA reforms in New York Assembly

Posted: May 31, 2007

Today in Albany, a New York Assembly committee heard testimony from Innocence Project Co-Director Peter Neufeld and three New York men exonerated after serving a total of 45 years in prison for crimes they didn’t commit.

Members of the Assembly are considering a new package of reforms that would help prevent wrongful convictions and use DNA to enhance the state’s criminal justice system. The Assembly reforms address these critical issues far more substantially and meaningfully than proposals that passed in the state Senate last week, according to the Innocence Project.

Joining Neufeld in testifying were New York exonerees Alan Newton, Roy Brown and Douglas Warney.

Read the Innocence Project press release on today's testimony here.

Tags: New York, False Confessions, Evidence Preservation, Access to DNA Testing



New York legislators near deal on reform legislation

Posted: June 1, 2007

Innocence Project Co-Director Peter Neufeld and four New Yorkers exonerated by DNA testing testified before a state Assembly committee yesterday that a package of reforms introduced in the Assembly would bring “serious, meaningful and badly needed” reforms to the state’s criminal justice system. Now it appears that legislators might be close to reaching a compromise between a bill that passed the Senate and the bill pending in the Assembly. The Innocence Project supports the package of reforms in the Assembly because it is addresses critical issues more substantially and more meaningfully than the Senate bill. Gov. Elliot Sptizer said yesterday that certain reforms from the Assembly bill were “reasonable…”

"I would be willing to support ... an innocence commission," Spitzer said. And as for the widening the window for appeal, he said: "That is a reasonable compromise."

Read the full story here. (Elmira Star-Gazette, 5/31/07)
Read the Innocence Project’s press release here.

More news coverage: Wrongfully convicted: DNA expansion must include protections (Journal-News, 6/1/07)

The four exonerees testiftying yesterday were Alan Newton, Doug Warney, Roy Brown and Jeff Deskovic; together they served 60 years in prison for crimes they didn't commit. They are among 23 people proven innocent by DNA testing in New York. Only Texas and Illinois have seen more convictions overturned by DNA testing.

Tags: New York, False Confessions, Evidence Preservation, Access to DNA Testing



New poll shows decrease in public support of death penalty

Posted: June 12, 2007 3:59 pm

A report released this week by the Death Penalty Information Center shows an erosion of public support for the death penalty in the United States over the last decade and points to DNA exonerations as a major cause of this change.

A significant majority said it is time for a moratorium on the death penalty while policies are reviewed and nearly 70% said reforms would not eliminate all wrongful convictions and executions. The poll included 1,000 adults nationwide and had a margin of error of + 3.1 %

“Public confidence in the death penalty has clearly eroded over the past 10 years, mostly as a result of DNA exonerations. Whether it is concern about executing the innocent, beliefs that the death penalty is not a deterrent, moral objections to taking human life, or a general sense that the system is too broken to be fixed, the bottom line is the same: Americans are moving away from the death penalty,” said Richard Dieter, DPIC’s Executive Director.

Read the report here. (Death Penalty Information Center, 6/9/2007)
New York exoneree Jeff Deskovic told the New York Daily News recently that he would have been executed if he weren’t so young when convicted.
Deskovic said, "I had to give up 17 years of my life. I can't get the time back, but I did get my freedom.

"If I'd got the death sentence, nobody could have given me my life back."

Read the full story. (New York Daily News, 06/10/2007)
And the Tennessee House of Representatives passed a bill last week to create a panel studying the state’s death penalty system. Tennessee has more than 100 prisoners on death row and has executed one person in 2007.

Tags: Tennessee, New York, Jeff Deskovic



The "right" answer: anatomy of a confession

Posted: June 13, 2007 1:21 pm

A New York City judge dropped murder charges last week against Ozem Goldwire, a Brooklyn man with developmental disabilities who found his sister dead in 2006 and called 911 to report the crime. After 17 hours of interrogation, Goldwire confessed to the crime, and now defense attorneys, a state psychologist and the judge agree that the situation in this case was ripe for a false confession. The prosecutor agreed to drop the charges after the psychologist issued her report. Goldwire had been in jail for a year waiting for trial.

When Mr. Goldwire was in Rikers Island, his lawyer, Gary Farrell, told prosecutors that the confession was unreliable, given his background. Kenneth Taub and Robert Lamb of the Brooklyn district attorney’s office hired a psychologist, Kathy F. Yates, who found that he was highly suggestible, eager to please. “It is likely that he wanted to meet the needs of the detectives as a well as to bring the interview to an end,” she wrote.

No audio or video record exists of Mr. Goldwire’s interactions with detectives during the 17 hours leading up to his confession.

“Here we had the ingredients of the perfect storm for false confession,” Judge Gustin L. Reichbach said in court last week, dismissing the charges at the request of the prosecution and the defense. “You’re actually innocent of this crime.”

Read the story here and listen to Goldwire’s 911 call. (New York Times, 6/13/07, Membership Required)
More than one-quarter of wrongful convictions later overturned by DNA testing involved a false confession. In countless other confession cases, like Goldwire’s, charges are thrown out before trial because the interrogation methods were questionable.

The Innocence Project supports criminal justice reforms mandating the electronic recording of all custodial interrogations nationwide. View a map of state laws requiring recorded interrogations.

Tags: New York, False Confessions



Op-Ed: Scheck and Neufeld call for NY to enact real reforms

Posted: June 18, 2007 11:02 am

In today’s New York Daily News, Innocence Project Co-Directors Barry Scheck and Peter Neufeld write that recent DNA exonerations have demonstrated the urgent need for criminal justice reforms in New York state, including improved access to DNA testing and improved procedures for the preservation of evidence.

Nobody benefits from a wrongful conviction. Not the victim, police, prosecutor, judge, jury, nor the public at large. Well, maybe one person benefits: the real perpetrator, who can relax knowing an innocent person took the rap.

There have been nine DNA exonerations in New York State since 2006, putting our total at 23. And given that it's harder to find preserved evidence in New York than in most states, and that DNA can prove innocence in so few crimes, the situation is likely far worse than those numbers indicate.

Read the full article. (New York Daily News, 06/18/07)


Tags: New York, Evidence Preservation, Access to DNA Testing



Innocence Project staff attorney Nina Morrison and exoneree Alan Newton to speak at Culture Project in New York

Posted: June 29, 2007 2:30 pm

Innocence Project attorney Nina Morrison and Alan Newton, exonerated in July 2006, will speak at the Culture Project in New York on Sunday, July 1st, following a screening of After Innocence. The documentary follows seven wrongfully convicted men after their release and features Morrison in her struggle to win exoneration for her client, Wilton Dedge. After the screening, Morrison and Newton will answer questions from the audience.

Get tickets and find out more about the event:

To view a trailer of the movie:

Tags: New York, Wilton Dedge, Alan Newton



District Attorney's report shows need for reform in New York

Posted: July 2, 2007 5:45 pm

A 35-page report issued today by Westchester County, New York DA Janet DiFiore identifies the factors contributing to Jeffrey Deskovic’s wrongful conviction and provides recommendations for reform. Deskovic was convicted of raping and murdering his high school classmate in 1990 based on a false confession that he later retracted. He spent over 15 years in prison before his exoneration in 2006.

The “Report on the Conviction of Jeffrey Deskovic” calls for access to forensic databases that can identify true perpetrators, creation of an Innocence Commission, recording of police interrogations, and proper storage and preservation of evidence. These measures could have prevented Deskovic’s wrongful conviction and enabled him to prove his innocence. In recent months, the State Legislature considered reforms that would address these same issues. The report underscores the need to pass this legislation and implement systemic reforms in New York State. When the legislature reconvenes on July 16, it will have another opportunity to pass the legislation.

Here is an excerpt of the report:

“One can imagine a situation in which police, prosecutors, defense counsel and the courts each discharged their functions in a perfectly appropriate way, yet the result achieved was calamitously wrong.  One can imagine such a case, but Jeffrey Deskovic’s case is not such a case…we attempt to analyze what went wrong for Jeffrey Deskovic in the hope that a broader understanding of his tragedy will help those in the criminal justice system take the steps necessary to protect others from his fate."
Read more about Jeff Deskovic's case.
Learn more about the reforms in New York.
Read a copy of the report here.

Read the Innocence Project press release here.

Tags: New York, False Confessions



District Attorney’s report on New York wrongful conviction fuels statewide reform efforts

Posted: July 3, 2007 12:00 pm

Westchester County (NY) District Attorney Janet DiFiore released a report yesterday investigating Jeffrey Deskovic’s wrongful conviction and calling for reform in the state’s criminal justice system.  Deskovic was convicted in 1990 of the murder and rape of a high school classmate and exonerated last year by DNA evidence. 

The investigation, which was commissioned by the DA and conducted by a group of outside experts, outlined several factors that led to Deskovic’s conviction.  Each of the problems identified in the report would be addressed statewide in reforms that have not yet passed in the New York State Legislature but could be revisited when legislators reconvene on July 16.

Among its recommendations are several measures to prevent wrongful convictions, like videotaping police interrogations and giving defendants the right, before and after trial, to have DNA evidence run through databanks to try to confirm the identity of actual perpetrators.

The Legislature has considered similar measures but adjourned late last month without passing any of them.

“This report makes clear that the system has not been fixed to prevent other people from enduring the tragic injustice Jeffrey Deskovic suffered,” said Barry C. Scheck, co-director of the Innocence Project, which secured Mr. Deskovic’s exoneration.

Read the full article here. (New York Times, 07/03/2007)
Read media coverage of the report:

Playing Down DNA Evidence Contributed to Wrongful Conviction, Review Finds - New York Times

Report blames wrongful conviction on 'tunnel vision' of police, lawyers - The Journal News

Man Wrongfully Convicted Of Rape And Murder - WNBC | New York

Read the full report here.

Read the Innocence Project press release here.

Learn more about reforms pending in New York State here.

Tags: New York, Jeff Deskovic



NY Times calls for recording of interrogations

Posted: January 14, 2008 11:12 am

“What did Martin Tankleff look and sound like when he confessed in 1988 to bludgeoning and slashing his parents to death?” the New York Times asks in a Saturday editorial. “We’ll never know. There is no video or audio recording, just an incomplete narrative, handwritten by detectives, which Mr. Tankleff signed, quickly repudiated, and spent nearly two decades trying to undo.”

DNA exonerations have proven that false confessions happen. In more than 25% of wrongful convictions overturned by DNA testing, a defendant confessed to a crime they didn’t commit. And electronic recording of interrogations prevents false confessions. Recording also aids prosecutors and law enforcement investigations – preserving a true account of an interrogation, allowing officers to focus on questions and not note-taking, and providing a training tool for future interrogations.

Illinois, Alaska and Minnesota – along with more than 500 local jurisdictions – record interrogations in some or most investigations. A bill stalled in the New York legislature last year, and the Times calls for passage of recording legislation this year.

The Tankleff case and the recent high-profile exoneration of Jeffrey Deskovic, who spent 16 years in prison for a rape and murder he confessed to but did not commit, both argue strongly for fixing this glaring flaw in New York’s justice system.

Read the full editorial here. (New York Times, 01/13/08)
Download the Innocence Project’s 2007 report on critical reforms to the New York criminal justice system.

Read more about Marty Tankleff’s case.

Read more about Jeffrey Deskovic’s case

Does your state have a law requiring recording of interrogations? Find out in our interactive map.

Tags: Alaska, Illinois, Minnesota, New York, Jeff Deskovic, False Confessions, Marty Tankleff



Editorial calls for NY innocence commission

Posted: February 14, 2008 12:51 pm

For the second year in a row, New York Assemblyman Michael Gianaris is sponsoring a bill in the state legislature to create a 10-member commission that would examine wrongful convictions and recommend policies to improve the state’s criminal justice system. An editorial in New York Newsday today calls for lawmakers to support the commission, saying “when it makes a horrendous mistake and imprisons an innocent person, the proper response should be something more substantive than ‘Oops!’”

For the innocent who spend years in prison, nothing can restore that lost time. But an innocence commission can at least help make wrongful convictions more rare.

Read the full editorial here. (New York Newsday, 2/14/08)

Tags: New York, Innocence Commissions



New York detective suspended for speaking out on wrongful conviction cases

Posted: February 29, 2008 4:25 pm

A Buffalo, New York, cold case squad detective was suspended without pay this week for speaking publicly about two cold cases in which evidence showed that a man and woman were in prison for crimes they didn’t commit. Dennis Delano, a 28-year veteran of the Buffalo Police Department, has been suspended for allegedly compromising the nature of investigations with his public statements.

Delano’s work has been key to the release of two wrongfully convicted individuals in Buffalo in recent months – Anthony Capozzi and Lynn DeJac. Capozzi was exonerated by DNA evidence last year after serving two decades in prison for two rapes he didn’t commit. DeJac was officially cleared yesterday when prosecutors dropped all pending charges against her. She served 13 years for allegedly killing her 13-year-old daughter in 1933. Three medical examiners have now said the girl died of a cocaine overdose, not strangulation.

Nationwide, police officers and other law enforcement authorities can play an important role in uncovering wrongful convictions – often through investigations of other cold cases that reveal evidence of wrongful convictions.  Capozzi and DeJac have both publicly said that without Delano’s commitment to uncovering the truth in their cases, they would not have been exonerated.

The suspension of Detective Delano has caused a stir in Buffalo today, with his supporters saying he was being unfairly punished for continuing to pursue the DeJac case against direct orders from superiors.

"The charges against Mr. Delano are extremely serious in nature and his actions have compromised the integrity of the Buffalo Police Department," today’s statement (from Police Commissioner H. McCarthy Gipson) said.

Police sources previously said Gipson had suspended Delano with pay this week for allegedly providing an investigative videotape from the Lynn DeJac case to a local television station.

Read the full story here. (Buffalo News, 02/29/08)
DeJac and her supporters do not believe her daughter died of a cocaine overdose.  They have suggested that the police and prosecutor changed the cause of death to avoid being held accountable for DeJac’s wrongful conviction.  The crime scene video that aired on local television news stations supported the theory that the girl died from violence (rather than a drug overdose).  There is no evidence that Delano provided the video to the local television station.

Read more about the Capozzi and DeJac cases.

Tags: New York, Anthony Capozzi



New York man marks first year of freedom

Posted: March 5, 2008 1:58 pm

Today marks the one-year anniversary of Roy Brown’s exoneration in upstate New York, after he served 15 years in prison for a murder he didn’t commit. While seeking to overturn his own case from his prison cell, Brown obtained police documents identifying a man named Barry Bench as an alternate suspect. He learned more about Bench and began to suspect that he was the killer. Around Christmas in 2003, Brown wrote to Bench, asking him to come clean and help Brown clear his name. Days later, Bench committed suicide.

In 2005, the Innocence Project began working on Brown’s case. A year later, DNA evidence proved that Bench’s saliva was on the victim’s shirt where she had been bitten during the attack. No evidence connected Brown to the murder. He was released in late 2006 and officially exonerated on March 5, 2007. Since his release, he has been an outspoken advocate for criminal justice reform.

Read more about his case here.

Other anniversaries this week:

Saturday: Richard Johnson, Illinois (Served 4 years, exonerated 3/8/1996)
Anthony Powell, Massachusetts (Served 12 years, exonerated 3/8/2004)

Tags: New York, Roy Brown



New York police may improve evidence preservation

Posted: March 19, 2008 4:17 pm

Alan Newton spent 21 years in prison in New York after he was convicted in 1984 of a rape he didn’t commit. For 12 of those years, he was asking for DNA testing. He was initially denied access, but as early as 1997, New York Police Department officials told him they weren’t able to locate the evidence for testing. He was told repeatedly that the evidence had been lost or destroyed and was not available for DNA testing. In 2006, the Innocence Project asked for a final search, with the help of a Bronx district attorney, and it was located in the department’s evidence warehouse – in the bin where it should have been all along.

Now, the NYPD is seeking $25 million in funding to build a computerized system to track evidence. A similar effort was derailed in the late 1990s, but the Innocence Project and other advocates of criminal justice reform have insisted that the new system is badly needed to prevent wrongful convictions and facilitate post-conviction DNA testing when an innocent inmate challenges his or her conviction. It is critical that any new system track evidence retroactively, so that old evidence currently in the NYPD’s possession can be located.

Read the full article here. (New York Daily News, 03/19/08)

Read about the Innocence Project’s efforts to improve evidence preservation nationwide.

Tags: New York, Evidence Preservation



New panels study wrongful convictions in Texas and New York

Posted: June 4, 2008 3:20 pm

Texas’ highest criminal court today announced the creation of a new Texas Criminal Justice Integrity Unit to address concerns of injustice in the court system and work with inmates who say they’ve been wrongfully convicted. The group’s initial invited members include Court of Criminal Appeals judge Barbara Hervey, Texas State Sen. Rodney Ellis (also the Innocence Project Board Chairman), members of Gov. Rick Perry’s staff, prosecutors, defense attorneys and judges.

"This is a call to action to address the growing concerns with our criminal justice system," Hervey said.David Dow, a law professor at the University of Houston and director of the Texas Innocence Network, said the integrity unit could have a huge impact. Unreliable eyewitness evidence is the top contributor to wrongful convictions, he said, Better preservation of evidence could help wrongfully convicted inmates use emerging technologies to win their case.

"I think this is fabulous," Dow said. "I think the court's recognition of the problem by itself is noteworthy."

Read the full story here. (Associated Press, 06/04/08)
A Summit on Wrongful Convictions in Austin last month added momentum to the push for a state innocence commission to study wrongful convictions. Read more about the summit here.

Meanwhile, the New York State Bar Association has also established a 22-member task force to study wrongful convictions. Members of this group will also come from across the legal spectrum – both inside and outside the state’s criminal justice system.

Read more here. (Newsday, 06/04/08)

Download the Innocence Project’s report on stalled reforms in New York.

Tags: Texas, New York, Innocence Commissions



Innocence Project and local allies urge New York State to adopt criminal justice reforms

Posted: July 3, 2008 2:30 pm

At a New York State Senate Democratic Task Force hearing in New York City, Innocence Project Policy Director Stephen Saloom and others testified about the prevalence of wrongful convictions in the state and the need for criminal justice reform. A New York Times article outlines the proposals discussed at the hearing, including preservation of DNA evidence, eyewitness identification reform, creating a state criminal justice reform commission, and requiring electronic recording of all custodial interrogations.

Bronx-native Alan Newton, who was exonerated through DNA testing in 2006, spoke at the hearing in support of the reforms, along with Marty Tankleff who was wrongfully convicted in Long Island for the murder of his parents because of a false confession.

“I was one of the lucky ones,” said Mr. Tankleff, who testified at the forum before rushing off to his college class. “I was a white guy who lived in a nice area with a great family.”
Read the full New York Times article here.
The hearing was the second in a series of four forums (called “Preventing Wrongful Convictions in New York State: Systematic Reforms to Convict the Guilty and Protect the Innocent”) to be held across the state by the Senate Democratic Task Force headed by State Senator Eric Schneiderman. At each forum, legislators and the public hear testimony from experts and exonerees on reform issues. With 23 DNA exonerations, New York State has one of the highest rates of wrongful convictions later overturned through DNA testing -- yet the state lags behind in criminal justice reform.

Read the Innocence Project press release about yesterday’s forum:

Read “Lessons Not Learned,” the Innocence Project’s report on wrongful convictions in New York State and reforms that can prevent them.

Tags: New York



Innocence Project client Steven Barnes receives DNA testing

Posted: August 22, 2008 4:15 pm

DNA testing is currently being performed in the 1985 murder case of 16-year-old Kimberly Simon of Marcy, New York. DNA tests performed over a decade ago showed the results were inconclusive. Now, ten years later, the Innocence Project hopes that advanced technology will be able to yield a result and bring closure to a long-controversial case.

Steven Barnes 1989 conviction was based largely on circumstantial evidence that witnesses may have seen Simon with Barnes on the night of the murder. Barnes and Simon had been classmates at Whitesboro High School.

Read a Utica Observer-Dispatch article about the case here.

Tags: New York



A pattern of prosecutorial misconduct

Posted: October 22, 2008 4:35 pm

A column in the New York Times explores a pattern of misconduct from a New York City prosecutor’s office, and the pattern doesn’t end with conviction. Prosecutors in the borough of Queens, Jim Dwyer writes, are reluctant to admit their misconduct and they rarely punish their own. In 80 Queens cases overturned by appeals courts between 1989 and 2003 for prosecutorial misconduct, senior officials took no disciplinary action.

Last week New York City settled a wrongful conviction lawsuit filed by a defendant, Shih-Wei Su, for $3.5 million – one of the biggest payments the state has ever made to a wrongfully convicted person. Su served nearly 13 years in prison for an attempted murder he has always said he didn’t commit. He was freed after his lawyers proved that prosecutors lied about a deal they made with a witness who testified against him.A prosecutor admitted in an investigation that she had been “naïve, inexperienced and, possibly, stupid” in allowing a witness to lie on the stand. She received a written admonition.

Mr. Su was outraged. “Is 13 years worth of my life worth only an admonition?” he wrote to the committee. “Even jaywalking can get prison time. So can stealing a loaf of bread.

“With all due respect, the message that this committee is sending out is loud and clear: Don’t worry about using false evidence; you will only get an admonition if you are stupid enough to admit it.”

Read the full column here. (New York Times, 10/21/08)

Tags: New York



Half a Life Behind Bars, Two Years Free

Posted: October 31, 2008 5:20 pm

Jeff Deskovic was exonerated on November 2, 2006, after spending half of his life in prison for a crime he didn’t commit. Sunday marks the second anniversary of his exoneration.

On November 15, 1989, a teenage girl was out taking pictures for her photography class in Westchester County, New York. Two days later her body was found by police dogs, and she appeared to have been raped. Sixteen-year-old Deskovic first became a suspect because he was late to school the day of her disappearance. Although he was a classmate of the victim and they shared two classes together, police grew more suspicious when Deskovic began his "own investigation" of the case.

Detectives asked him to submit to a polygraph test, and they brought the young Deskovic to a private polygraph business run by local officers. During the test, no lawyers or parents were involved, and he was only given coffee. He spent over six hours inside the small room as detectives continued to interrogate him, claiming he failed the tests. By the end of the interrogation, Deskovic was crying and curled up under the table. After six hours of questioning and three polygraph tests, Deskovic allegedly confessed to committing the crime.

At the trial the police misconduct was ignored, and details were distorted by the state. While DNA tests on the rape kit excluded Deskovic as a source of the semen, the state argued the victim had consensual sex before the crime and that Deskovic murdered her in a jealous rage. The jury was also told that he had confessed to the crime. Deskovic was convicted and sentenced to 15 years to life.

In January 2006, the Innocence Project took on Deskovic’s case, and sought to retest the biological evidence using newer technology, making it eligible for the state DNA database. The results matched a man already in prison for another murder.

Deskovic was 33 when he was released. Upon his release he spoke of the bond he felt with the victim, "We had a commonality. We were both victims of the man who killed her — in different ways, obviously. She is more of a victim than I am, but I am still a victim."

Since his exoneration, Deskovic has fought to ensure that others do not become victims of wrongful convictions. He speaks to high schools, churches, and colleges, and fights for legislative reform to prevent other wrongful convictions. Visit his personal website here.

Other exoneration anniversaries this week:

Steven Linscott, Illinois, (Served 3 years, Exonerated 7/15/92)

Tags: New York, Jeff Deskovic



Three years later: Restivo, Halstead and Kogut

Posted: January 2, 2009 6:00 pm

In 1986, three New York men were arrested and convicted in New York on charges of abduction, rape and murder based on a false convention and faulty scientific testimony at trial. It wasn’t until 2005, 17 years after they were first convicted, that John Restivo, Dennis Halstead and John Kogut were rightfully exonerated.

Restivo, Halstead and Kogut were loosely connected before their convictions. Both Halstead and Restivo had been interrogated by police as part of their investigation and Restivo would sometimes hire Kogut to help with his family’s moving business. However, after the police gave Kogut a polygraph exam and subsequently interrogated him for 12 hours, all the while telling him that he, Restivo and Halstead were responsible for the victim’s rape and death, that Kogut signed a confession provided to him and written by a police officer. By the time Kogut signed the confession, he had, given five other versions of the crime. In this sixth account of events, Restivo, Kogut, and Halstead were in Restivo’s van when they came across the 16-year-old girl, who they would later supposedly rape and strangle near a local cemetery.

Because of Kogut’s confession, Restivo’s van was searched and police would soon find two hairs that were deemed microscopically similar to those of the victim. The prosecution relied heavily on testimony from hair comparison expert Dr. Peter DeForest, who testified that the hairs could not have been deposited in the vehicle while she was alive. According to Dr. DeForest, the hairs found in Restivo’s van displayed “advanced banding,” a condition caused by bacteria eating away at the interior of the hair shaft.

After his confession, Kogut was tried separately in March 1986. Restivo and Halstead were tried together in November 1986 on the grounds that the two hairs corroborated Kogut’s confession. All three were convicted of rape and murder.

It wasn’t until 2003 that attorneys for the three men obtained property records from the police department that would eventually lead to the discovery of an intact vaginal swab from the original rape kit that had never been tested. The Innocence Project represented Restivo and worked closely with attorneys for Halstead and Kogut.  Test results of the swab excluded all three men as perpetrators. In addition, after years of research of the hair bonding technology, the state’s expert witness at the time of the original convictions provided the defense with an affidavit declaring that the hairs could not have been shed by the victim during the time that she would have allegedly been in the van.

In light of these revelations, John Restivo, Dennis Halstead and John Kogut had their convictions vacated in June 2003. Prosecutors retried Kogut two years later, and he was found not guilty on December. 21, 2005. Little more than a week later, the Nassau County District Attorney’s office, having declared that it could not prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt, dismissed all charges against Dennis Halstead and John Restivo on December. 29, 2005.

Other Exoneree Anniversaries Last Week

Leonard McSherry, California (Served 13 Years, Exonerated, 2001)


Tags: New York, Dennis Halstead, John Kogut, John Restivo, False Confessions



Hearing Tomorrow Could Exonerate Steve Barnes of All Charges

Posted: January 8, 2009 2:30 pm

After serving nearly 20 years in prison for a rape and murder he didn't commit, Innocence Project client Steven Barnes may be fully exonerated tomorrow. Barnes and Innocence Project Staff Attorney Alba Morales will appear in Oneida County court tomorrow in Utica.

Barnes was released from prison in late November after DNA testing showed he is innocent. His conviction was vacated, but the indictment against him was not dismissed, meaning he could be retried for the crime at any time. The Oneida County District Attorney’s Office, with cooperation from the Innocence Project, has been reinvestigating the case since Barnes was released. 

If the indictment against Barnes is dismissed, he will become the 227th person exonerated by DNA evidence.

Barnes' conviction is just one example of how improper or invalid forensic science can lead to wrongful convictions. His conviction was largely based on unvalidated forensic science, including soil comparison and analysis of an imprint allegedly left on the outside of Barnes’ truck by the victim’s jeans. He was found guilty of second-degree murder, rape and sodomy of a teenage girl 1985. However, test results conducted last year on materials collected from the victim’s body and clothing did not match Barnes, which led to his release from prison in November and tomorrow’s hearing that may exonerate him officially.

We’ll post more on the blog tomorrow after the hearing.

Read more on the Barnes case on the Innocence Blog.

Today’s news coverage of Barnes’ case:

Utica Observer Dispatch: Barnes’ charges to be dismissed Friday in teen's '85 murder

WKTV: Friday hearing could exonerate Steven Barnes for 1985 rape and murder

Tags: New York, Forensic Oversight, Steven Barnes



Steven Barnes Officially Exonerated in New York

Posted: January 9, 2009 4:30 pm

Steven Barnes was able to spend the holidays with his family for the first time in almost 20 years when DNA testing proved that he did not commit a murder for he was convicted in 1989. Even though he was released as a result of the testing, the state said the charges against Barnes would stay until further investigation.

At a hearing this morning in Utica, New York, Barnes was officially exonerated when the county apologized for his wrongful conviction and the court lifted the original indictment. Barnes is the 227th person to be exonerated by DNA evidence and is the 24th in New York.

Read the Innocence Project's press release here.

Highlights of today’s news coverage of Barnes’ case:

Utica Observer-Dispatch: It's official: Barnes exonerated on all charges

Associated Press: Wrongly jailed NY man formally cleared of murder

WKTV: Steven Barnes fully exonerated for 1985 rape and murder 


Tags: New York, Eyewitness Identification, Forensic Oversight, Informants/Snitches, Steven Barnes



Criminal Defense and Wrongful Convictions

Posted: May 6, 2009 6:00 pm

In a recent speech accepting the Federal Bar Council’s Leaned Hand Medal, federal judge Lewis Kaplan focused on wrongful convictions and one of their leading causes – the quality of representation available to criminal defendants.

Bad or inadequate defense representation has played a role in many of the wrongful convictions later overturned by DNA testing. In his speech, Kaplan identified four factors that contribute to this problem: the overworked and under-funded indigent defense system, the staggering economic cost of private representation, the lack of information available to defendants about their options, and the competence of hired lawyers

“We know from the Innocence Project that 237 people have been exonerated by DNA evidence alone of crimes for which they were convicted and sentenced. So we now know with scientific certainty what many have suspected for years. Our criminal justice system, no different from anything else that depends on inherently fallible human beings, makes mistakes. How many? No one knows. But consider this. In 2008, the number of persons incarcerated in the United States substantially exceeded 2 million. So if even one in 1,000 of those inmates was convicted mistakenly, there are more than 2,000 people behind bars in this country for crimes they didn't commit,” Kaplan said.

“We pride ourselves on the American system of justice, and we have much to be proud of. But we do not have a right to be smug or complacent. Our system of defending the poor is in a state of crisis in many parts of the country. We must respond to that crisis.”

Read the full text of Kaplan’s speech here. (The New York Law Journal, 05/06/2009)

Learn more about how inadequate defense contributes to wrongful convictions.

Tags: New York, Bad Lawyering



NY District Attorney on the Need to Prevent Wrongful Convictions

Posted: June 4, 2009 6:00 pm

A District attorney should have two goals, according to Janet DiFiore – keping the public safe and ensuring that fair and impartial justice is practiced in our courts. DiFiore, the District Attorney of New York’s Westchester County, will serve as a co-chair on the state’s new Justice Task Force, which is charged with examining the causes of wrongful conviction and recommending reforms to prevent injustice. She said yesterday in a statement that she looks forward to her role in working to prevent injustice.

As District Attorney of Westchester County, I have readily accepted my obligation to promote fairness and justice at every level of our system by ensuring that in every case we prosecute, we not only strive to convict the guilty, but also make certain that no one is wrongfully convicted for a crime that he or she did not commit.

In spite of all our efforts, our criminal justice system is not infallible.
Read yesterday’s statement from DiFiore here.
In 2007, DiFiore ordered a thorough study of the wrongful conviction of Jeffrey Deskovic, who was exonerated in 2006 after serving more than 15 years in prison for a murder he didn’t commit. The report found that systemic flaws were behind Deskovic’s wrongful conviction, as they are in many cases. Read more and download the report here.

And New York lawmakers are considering a package of reforms right now to address help free the innocent statewide and improve laws that help prevent wrongful convictions. To learn more and email state leaders in support of these proposed measures, click here.

Tags: New York, Jeff Deskovic, Reforms



Friday Roundup: Progress Around the Country

Posted: August 14, 2009 5:30 pm

Important policy reforms, pending cases and other developments around the country this week highlighted the complexities of wrongful convictions and the need to prevent them at all levels.

North Carolina Governor Bev Perdue signed a bill on Tuesday that seeks to address racial disparities in the criminal justice system. The bill, which allows capital murder defendants and death row prisoners to challenge prosecutions based on evidence of racial bias, is the second such bill passed in the United States (Kentucky approved a similar bill in 1998.)

Critics of the Rhode Island probation system allege the state’s current policy can put innocent people in prison because the courts only need to be “reasonably satisfied” that defendants commit a crime, thereby violating parole.

Actress Hilary Swank told Variety magazine that she was excited to work on the “Betty Anne Waters” film because of its focus on wrongful convictions, an issue about which she cares deeply. Swank’s support of the Innocence Project is featured in Variety’s special issue on philanthropy.

Hundreds of mourners attended a funeral march for Donald Marshall Jr., who spent 11 years in a Canadian prison for a murder he didn’t commit. Marshall passed away at the age of 55 of complications from a previous double lung transplant.

New York man William McCaffrey was convicted of rape in 2005 and sentence to 20 years in prison based on the victim’s testimony and bite mark evidence. Last year, however, the alleged victim told the district attorney that she lied about the rape. Subsequent DNA tests have since proven that bite marks could not have been made by McCaffrey, but the district attorney’s office is still reviewing the case.

Jessie Misskelley, Jason Baldwin and Damien Echols of Arkansas were convicted of murder in the death of three West Memphis boys in 1993. Prosecutors originally argued that the boys were murdered in a cult ritual, but a forensic pathologist now says that the multiple injuries to the bodies were likely caused by animals, possibly turtles.

Tags: Arkansas, North Carolina, New York



Exoneree Inspires Students in New York

Posted: March 3, 2010 5:00 pm

Fernando Bermudez, who was freed in November after serving 18 years in New York prisons for a murder evidence shows he didn’t commit, addressed 200 students at Ardsley High School in Westchester, NY, yesterday.  The audience, which included the school's forensic science, criminal justice and other classes, heard first-hand how the justice system failed Bermudez.

According to the Journal News, Bermudez told the students:

"I believed that the truth would set me free at trial. I honestly believed that," Bermudez, 41, said Tuesday to students at Ardsley High School. "I believed in the American justice system, but I lost and sunk deeper into the system."

Bermudez said prosecutors rely too heavily on unreliable eyewitness testimony, even when there is little supporting evidence.

Students questioned why prosecutors ignored three friends of Bermudez who testified that he was not involved in the incident.

"Unfortunately, it wasn't enough," Bermudez said.

He told the students about his case and told them that they should always guard their rights.  His speech was inspiring to students and emotional for others who were angry to learn that the criminal justice can fail in such a profound way. 

Bermudez was convicted in 1992 of shooting a teenager outside a New York City nightclub in 1991.  In November, a judge today tossed out his conviction and charges saying he had proved his actual innocence.
Questionable eyewitness testimony led to his wrongful conviction, and the Innocence Project filed friend-of-the-court briefs in his case, highlighting the problematic identifications.

Learn more about eyewitness misidentification here.

Find out how you can host an exoneree speaker here.

Tags: New York



Manhattan District Attorney Creates Wrongful Convictions Unit

Posted: March 5, 2010 2:30 pm

Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance, Jr., announced Thursday that he is setting up a Conviction Integrity Unit to re-examine closed cases where claims of innocence have been made and to establish standard procedures for new cases to prevent wrongful convictions.  The unit will consist of three components: a Conviction Integrity Committee, a Conviction Integrity Chief and an outside Conviction Integrity Policy Advisory Panel.

The committee will review practices and policies related to case assessment, investigation and disclosure obligations, with a focus on potential errors such as eyewitness misidentifications and false confessions.  Comprised of senior members of the DA’s staff, the committee will also lead the investigation of post-conviction cases with credible claims of innocence. The head of the new unit will be Bonnie Sard, a senior Assistant District Attorney, who will report directly to Vance and the office’s General Counsel. The outside advisory panel will consist of 10 leading criminal justice experts including Innocence Project Co-Director Barry Scheck. The advisory group will advise the DA’s office on how to prevent and address wrongful convictions.

Scheck told WNYC:

“I think it's just part of an overall movement that's going on across the country with prosecutors who are aware that these mistakes can happen, and there are better ways that we can go about evaluating them to make sure that we get it right.”
Read the full story here.

Vance said in a press release:
"As prosecutors, it is our duty to bring our best efforts to bear in every case to ensure that only the guilty are convicted.  And if we have any reason to believe that we have prosecuted or are prosecuting someone who is actually innocent, we must take prompt steps to investigate the matter and see that justice is served."

Read the full press release about the panel and its members here.

Other coverage of the Conviction Integrity Unit:

Albany Times Union (3/5/10)

The New York Times (3/4/10)

1010 WINS (3/4/10)

Tags: New York



18 Years After Wrongful Conviction, New York Man is Exonerated

Posted: April 28, 2010 6:00 pm

Today’s announcement — Sterling’s innocence and Christie’s apparent admission to Viola Manville’s slaying — links two of the most high-profile suburban homicides in the region in the past 30 years. The murder of Manville, a sprightly woman known for her vigorous daily walks along the same path where she was slain, sent tremors through Hilton. Similarly, the 1994 abduction and murder of Kali Ann Poulton from her Pittsford townhouse complex shocked the community and triggered a nationwide search for the cherubic blond youngster.

But more than the connection between the killings, the exoneration of Sterling raises a question about the local criminal justice foundation: Namely, how could so many be so wrong for so long?

Sterling confessed in 1991 to Manville’s murder. That statement, partly videotaped, was compelling enough to sway investigators, prosecutors, a jury, and multiple local and appellate judges who for years believed in the propriety of Sterling’s conviction even when evidence arose that Christie may have been the real killer. But the videotaped portion of Sterling’s 1991 statement represents a fragment of his total interrogation, and his supporters have long maintained that Sterling, frazzled and worn down, began telling investigators what they wanted to hear.

Read the full article here.

False confessions, admissions or guilty pleas contributed to 25% wrongful convictions overturned by DNA evidence throughout the U.S. Researchers who study this phenomenon have determined that various reasons ranging from mental health issues to aggressive law enforcement tactics  can sometimes lead innocent people to confess to crimes they did not commit. In Sterling’s case, his supposed confession came after he worked a 36-hour trucking shift followed by 12 hours in police custody for interrogation that included hypnosis. He  was unable to tell police how many times the victim had been shot, and a he drew a map of the crime scene that was nowhere near where it actually happened.

Sterling said that a lot of writing and tenacity helped him through the past 18 years.  “Patience is a virtue,” he said, adding that he is angry about what happened, but it didn’t change who he is. After a barbeque lunch with his Innocence Project attorneys and supporters, Sterling’s plans for his first night of freedom are to enjoy the company of his friends.

Read the full press release about Sterling’s case here.

Learn about false confessions here.

Read how to prevent false confessions here.

Read more news coverage of today’s exoneration:

Associated Press 04/28/10

WCBS TV New York 04/28/10

News10NBC 04/28/10

13WHAMTV 04/28/10

Herald Sun 04/28/10

Tags: New York



New York Can Do Better to Prevent Wrongful Convictions

Posted: May 19, 2011 5:59 pm

Criminal justice reforms that are needed in New York include: identification policies requiring that lineups be conducted by an officer who doesn’t know the identity of the suspect and informing the witness that the officer doesn’t know, mandatory recording of entire interrogations in felony cases and compensation for the exonerated who have plead guilty or falsely confessed. But there has been resistance from law enforcement.

Initial opposition from law enforcement to these reforms is not uncommon. They represent a departure from accustomed practice and raise fears about practicability and cost. But these time-tested techniques have proven effective, cost-neutral and are now generally embraced by law enforcement where they have been mandated in state after state.

For years the Assembly has passed legislation to embrace these changes, but the powers that be have persuaded the Senate and our recent governors to prevent their enactment. Could it be that the dysfunction of Albany has so crippled the state that we cannot adopt the same best practices being adopted by states across the nation to protect the innocent and in doing so, increase the accuracy of criminal investigations, and strengthen criminal prosecutions?

If New York can't even get this done, then we're all in a lot of trouble.

Read the full op-ed here.

Tags: New York



Friday Roundup: Compensation, Real Perpetrators and the Death Penalty

Posted: January 20, 2012 1:00 pm

Tags: Ohio, Texas, Washington, New York, Exoneree Compensation, Forensic Oversight, Unvalidated/Improper Forensics, Life After Exoneration, Death Penalty, Real Perpetrator



Cardozo Law School Symposium Addresses Juvenile Wrongful Convictions

Posted: January 20, 2012 4:20 pm

Tags: New York, Marvin Anderson



New York’s DNA Database Bill Falls Short

Posted: February 1, 2012 12:00 pm

Tags: New York



NBC investigates New York Conviction Based on Eyewitness Evidence

Posted: February 13, 2012 3:30 pm

Tags: New York



New York Chief Judge Aims to Reduce Wrongful Convictions

Posted: February 15, 2012 5:45 pm

Tags: New York



The New York Times Calls for State Wrongful Conviction Reform

Posted: February 27, 2012 3:30 pm

Tags: New York



End wrongful convictions in New York

Posted: March 5, 2012 10:30 am

Tags: New York, Reforms, False Confessions, Eyewitness Identification, Eyewitness Misidentification, DNA Databases



New York Should Follow China's Lead and Require Mandatory Recording of Interrogations

Posted: March 9, 2012 4:30 pm

Tags: New York



New York Exoneree Starts Foundation to Help Wrongfully Convicted

Posted: March 14, 2012 11:30 am

Tags: New York, Jeff Deskovic



Tune In: ESPN to Premiere Dewey Bozella Film

Posted: March 15, 2012 3:00 pm

Tags: New York, Dewey Bozella



Symposium to Explore Issue of Inadequate Defense

Posted: March 26, 2012 5:30 pm

Tags: New York, Bad Lawyering



The New York Times Calls on Gov. Cuomo to Pass Wrongful Conviction Reforms

Posted: March 27, 2012 10:55 am

Tags: New York



False Confession Experts Now Allowed to Testify in New York State

Posted: April 3, 2012 12:00 pm

Tags: New York, False Confessions



Science Thursday

Posted: April 5, 2012 5:20 pm

Tags: California, Florida, Illinois, New York



New York State to Review Convictions

Posted: April 11, 2012 12:30 pm

Tags: New York



Science Thursday

Posted: April 12, 2012 3:30 pm

Tags: California, New York



RIT Hosts Wrongful Conviction Conference

Posted: April 19, 2012 3:15 pm

Tags: New York



Science Thursday - May 10, 2012

Posted: May 10, 2012 12:30 pm

Tags: California, District of Columbia, Indiana, New York



A Mother's Day Message from "Mama Innocence"

Posted: May 11, 2012 5:45 pm

Tags: New York



Innocence Project and New York State Bar Association Push for Reform in New York

Posted: May 30, 2012 5:20 pm

At a press conference in Albany today, Innocence Project Co-Director Barry Scheck and Bar Association President Vincent E. Doyle III were joined by five exonerees who collectively spent more than 90 years in prison for crimes they didn’t commit, a Texas rape victim who mistakenly identified the wrong suspect, one of the three Duke University lacrosse players falsely accused of rape in 2006, and a North Carolina police captain whose department has successfully adopted interrogation and eyewitness reforms.

Despite the fact that New York has the third highest number of wrongful convictions nationwide, the state Legislature has failed to take action to prevent future injustice.  Simple reforms that would improve eyewitness identifications and help prevent false confessions — two of the leading causes of wrongful convictions — have been embraced by other states including New Jersey, Connecticut, Texas and North Carolina.

Underscoring the need for improved identification procedures, the Innocence Project released the results of a survey on whether police agencies around the state had formal identification procedure policies. Requests for information from 500 police agencies resulted in 349 responses. Of those, 112 provided formal written policies. None had written policies requiring double-blind police lineups, which have been proven to reduce the rate of misidentification.  Two departments, however, do require that lineups be conducted double-blind whenever possible.

A recent editorial in the Buffalo News emphasized the need for New York to pass this legislation.

New York’s resistance to reform goes largely unexplained, though some critics believe it is because many voters would perceive such measures as being unfriendly to police and of benefit to criminals. But the opposite is true.

Convicting the right person not only avoids putting innocent people in prison, but ensures that the real criminal isn’t out creating more victims.

New York had a chance to act on this problem earlier this year when it expanded the state’s DNA database. It didn’t, to its shame. The Assembly has supported reforms but the Senate and Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo remain strangely silent.

It is time for them to speak up. As Samuel Gross, editor of the newly opened National Registry of Exonerations, said: “We know there are many more that we haven’t found."

Read more in today’s press release.
Read the full editorial.

Tags: New York



How to Make the Criminal Justice System More Fair

Posted: June 4, 2012 1:50 pm

By Fernando Bermudez
The following is an op-ed about the need for wrongful conviction reforms in New York State by exoneree Fernando Bermudez, which appeared in today's El Diario in Spanish.
Leer el articulo en
El Diario. 
After spending 18 years in New York prisons for a crime that I didn’t commit, it is deeply disappointing to me that New York continues to lag behind other states in protecting its citizens against wrongful convictions.
In the summer of 1991, just as I aspired to enter the medical profession, I was wrongfully convicted of a New York City murder and languished for over 18 years in maximum-security prisons. My “actual innocence” was proven in late 2009, and I was released and reunited with my wife and family. Mistaken eyewitness identification, accounting for 75% of all wrongful convictions, initiated my ordeal; police and prosecutorial misconduct, including failure to investigate key leads and admitted use of false testimony, worsened it.
Until top-flight, pro bono attorneys helped dismiss my indictment and secure a judicial apology, I existed in a small, 6 x 9 foot cell for 6,700 days. These 18 stress-laced years in prison exposed me to physical attacks by inmates and correctional staff alike, let alone mental anguish close to suicide. Prison humiliated, degraded and forced me to question my existence amid daily danger, misery and sadness. After prevailing in my eleventh, exhausting appeal, I regained my freedom. Non-DNA cases, like mine, are harder to resolve than DNA-based cases (which are hard enough). They require more investigation and overcoming complex and demanding legal hurdles. DNA only solves a small fraction of all wrongful convictions; the majority face obstacles as I did.
It is hard to believe that the New York Senate refuses to enact eyewitness identification reforms to protect the innocent. Better reforms and protections in 1991 likely would have prevented my wrongful incarceration. The teenage witnesses were exposed to a suggestive live line-up. In order to hide my height and weight - which differed from what witnesses had described - I was forced to sit, rather than stand. The identification procedures advocated by all identification experts are based on strong social science research and would never have produced such a biased procedure.
False confessions, another leading cause of wrongful convictions, can also be addressed through reform. Many other states have mandated that law enforcement record interrogations from start to finish. Recording interrogations preserves an accurate record of what transpired so that juries can gauge the reliability of the confession. New York State has a well-documented history of convicting innocent defendants due to a false confession and should not hesitate to adopt this reform.
On May 1st, the Innocence Project and I met with the Puerto Rican and Black Legislative Caucus in Albany to urge the state legislature to enact reforms that would create a better criminal justice system for all New Yorkers. We discussed the problems of eyewitness misidentification as a public safety issue because what happened to me can happen to anyone. I told the caucus that every time a wrongful conviction occurs it allows the real perpetrator to walk free. In the end, we all pledged to work together again.

Tags: New York



NYPD Slow to Record Interrogations

Posted: August 14, 2012 4:25 pm

Over two years after New York City’s Police Commissioner announced that the department would launch a pilot program to record interrogations in their entirety, only two precincts have actually tested the procedure, reported the Wall Street Journal. The police department limited the program to a precinct each in Brooklyn and the Bronx, but has recently announced that the program will be expanded to include one precinct in each of the five boroughs.
The pilot program is further limited because it records only felony assault interrogations and not interrogations from rape or murder investigations. The NYPD was unable to provide The Wall Street Journal with the total number of fully recorded interrogations or a comparison of conviction rates.
In approximately 25% of the wrongful convictions overturned with DNA evidence, defendants made false confessions, admissions or statements to law enforcement officials. The electronic recording of interrogations, from the reading of Miranda rights onward, is the single best reform available to stem the tide of false confessions. From the Wall Street Journal article:

Currently, 341 of the state's 509 police agencies are recording suspect interviews in some crimes, typically in at least murder and rape investigations, according to the state Division of Criminal Justice Services. By virtue of its pilot program, the NYPD is included among them.
Nationwide, 18 states and Washington, D.C., mandate the complete recording of interrogations for some crimes, said Rebecca Brown, director of state policy reform for the Innocence Project. A bill requiring either audio or video taping of interrogations in New York has passed the state Assembly but not the Senate.

Although other police departments across the country have embraced the policy of recording interrogations, a spokesman for the NYPD cited the financial and logistical challenge to record an array of interrogations in precincts across Manhattan, and the president of the NYPD's Detective Endowment Association is wary of juries viewing gritty police interrogations.
Ultimately, the mandated electronic recording of the entire interrogation process protects the innocent, ensures the admissibility of legitimate confessions, and helps law enforcement defend against allegations of coercion.
Read the full article.
Read a Center on Wrongful Convictions report: Police Experiences with Recording Custodial Interrogations
Read more about false confessions and mandatory recording of interrogations.

Tags: New York



Science Thursday - August 16, 2012

Posted: August 16, 2012 4:20 am

Texas reviews previous arson cases and a prosecutor in New York City launches a cybercrime lab in his office. Here’s this week’s round up of forensic news:
An ongoing Texas arson review has revealed a number of cases where flawed forensic science may have lead to wrongful arson convictions.
The Manhattan District Attorney has announced the construction of a cybercrime lab to be housed in the district attorney’s office and staffed by computer forensic staff members, specialized prosecutors, analysts and investigators. The lab is scheduled to be up and running by late 2013.
Researchers in China have developed an electrochemiluminesence (ECL) technique to reveal fingerprints on items of evidence. Unlike current techniques of gathering fingerprints, the ECL technique will not affect the integrity of the print.
The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has developed a new reference standard for ballistics that can help lab technicians verify that their equipment is calibrated and functioning properly, validate their methodology, and demonstrate that their work is traceable to an authoritative national standard.

Tags: Texas, New York, Science Thursday



Buffalo News Urges New York to Take Action Against Wrongful Convictions

Posted: August 16, 2012 5:10 pm

An editorial in Tuesday’s Buffalo News urges New York to improve police lineup procedures and record interrogations in an effort to prevent future wrongful convictions. New York State has the third highest number of wrongful convictions nationwide, yet the Legislature has failed to take action to prevent future injustice.
The latest wrongful conviction claim making headlines is the case of Eric Glisson and Cathy Watkins, who, along with three other people, were convicted of the 1995 murder of a cab driver in the Bronx. Buffalo area wrongful convictions include Lynn DeJac, exonerated in 2008 and Anthony Capozzi, exonerated in 2007.
The Buffalo News writes:

Lineup and interrogation reforms are crucial issues of criminal justice and crime prevention. They are not touchy-feely be-nice-to-criminals measures. New Yorkers need to know their criminal justice system is functioning in a way that, as much as possible, weeds out the innocent and punishes the guilty. As of today, they don't know anything of the kind.

Read the full editorial.
Read more about criminal justice reform in New York State.

Tags: New York



An Exoneree Speaks at a Synagogue before the Jewish Holidays

Posted: September 14, 2012 4:10 pm

By Audrey Levitin
Director of Development and External Affairs
(Photo: Director of State Policy Reform Rebecca Brown and exoneree Alan Newton)
Last week, New York exoneree Alan Newton and the Innocence Project's Director of State-Based Advocacy, Rebecca Brown, spoke at Congregation Shomrei Emunah in Montclair, New Jersey, on the occasion of the Jewish holiday Selichot. The Selichot service ushers in the high holidays of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. As a Shomrei member and staff member at the Innocence Project, it was my privilege to share the IP's work with my community at a time when we reflect on issues of new beginnings, forgiveness, and justice. I thought it was particularly appropriate during this very introspective period to be reminded of the extraordinary capacity of people to fully embrace life despite suffering enormous injustice.
Alan spent 22 years in prison for a crime he did not commit, after being wrongfully convicted due to eyewitness misidentification. During his time in prison, he drew upon his enormous reservoirs of courage and dignity, and the strong support of his family. Alan refused to admit to a crime he did not commit, even though he would have been paroled from prison years earlier than his 2006 release. Instead he continued to press for access to DNA testing that he knew would prove his innocence. Even though he was told by the police that biological evidence from the crime had been lost, he persisted in his efforts to have it located. Alan eventually reached out to the Innocence Project, and his evidence was found right where police records indicated it should have been all along. Had it been located earlier, Alan could have been released 12 years earlier.
Like so many people, the members of my community were astonished at Alan’s ability to make the best use of his time in prison and then move on with his life. While imprisoned, Alan earned an Associate’s Degree, and after his release, he enrolled at CUNY where he earned his Bachelor’s in Business Administration. He is now working at CUNY to help young people access and complete higher education. He has also recently become a father. His son Eli is now 10 months old.
Any of us would understand if Alan were bitter about his wrongful conviction and imprisonment. But when Shomrei’s Rabbi David Greenstein asked Alan to address the emotional and spiritual component of his experience, Alan responded that he had very strong family support. In fact, he said that his family felt as though they were serving the time with him. He also drew strength from knowing the truth of his innocence. Explaining his positive attitude, he said, "One has to be able to love, because without love, there is no growth."
Alan and others who have been exonerated, inspire us to be better people, to be more courageous and more forgiving. Their strength and resilience in the face of tremendous hardship continually remind us why we must all fight for a system of justice that is worthy of the name.
Read News Coverage of the event here.

Tags: New York, Alan Newton



Damien Echols and Johnny Depp to Read at New York City Bookstore

Posted: September 19, 2012 5:25 pm

Damien Echols will read from his new memoir, Life After Death, at the Union Square Barnes and Noble on Sept. 21 and sign books afterwards. Echols is known as one of the “West Memphis Three” — three young men wrongfully convicted of the murder of three boys in Arkansas. The men were all released through an Alford Plea in August 2011. Echols had spent nearly 18 years on death row and his two co-defendants, Jason Baldwin and Jessie Misskelley, Jr. had been serving life sentences.
Here’s an excerpt from the book:

“If I start to believe that the things I wrote cannot stand on their own merit, then I will lay down my pen. I’m often plagued by thoughts that people will only think of me as either someone on death row or someone who used to be on death row. I grow dissatisfied when I think of people reading my words out of a morbid sense of curiosity. I want people to read what I write because it means something to them – either it makes them laugh, or remember things they’ve forgotten and that once meant something to them, or that it simply touches them in some way. I don’t want to be an oddity, a freak, or a curiosity. I don’t want to be the car wreck that people slow down to gawk at. . . . I want to create something of lasting beauty, not a freak show exhibit.”

There have been several compelling documentaries about their case including the HBO trilogy Paradise Lost and Amy Berg’s West of Memphis. Johnny Depp, a longtime champion of the West Memphis Three, will also speak at the reading.
More info.

Tags: Arkansas, New York, West Memphis Three



NYPD to Video Record Interrogations

Posted: September 21, 2012 12:05 pm

In a speech delivered before the Carnegie Council Wednesday, New York City Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said the city will begin video recording criminal interrogations as recommended by the New York State Justice Task Force and the Innocence Project.
The NYPD joins over 800 other jurisdictions that have voluntarily adopted the policy. Under Kelly's new proposal, New York City will become the biggest law enforcement agency in the country to undertake video recording. As an expansion of the NYPD’s 2010 pilot program, every precinct in the city will now record entire interrogations in murder, assault and sexual assault cases. Across the state, more than two-thirds of police departments require officers to tape interrogations, according to the state's Division of Criminal Justice Services.
Still, it is unclear whether the NYPD will video record only those interrogations that occur after an arrest, or all qualifying custodial interrogations. Reuters writes:

The practice has grown increasingly common in recent years, as digital technology has enabled videotaping to become far more affordable. Kelly said the non-profit New York City Police Foundation will help pay to install video capacity in the city's 76 precincts with a $3 million grant.
Stephen Saloom, the policy director for the Innocence Project at Yeshiva University's Cardozo School of Law, called the proposal a "good first step" but said that all custodial interrogations, not merely those that come after arrest, should be videotaped to prevent false confessions.

A growing awareness about the risk of false confessions has motivated jurisdictions and states nationwide to adopt the reform. Eighteen states and the District of Columbia now mandate that certain felony interrogations be recorded in their entirety, from the reading of the Miranda rights onward.
New York State has a legacy of wrongful convictions based on false confessions. Twelve people from New York have been exonerated through DNA testing after a false confession led to their wrongful conviction, including the high-profile case of the Central Park Five.
Here’s an excerpt of Kelly’s statement:

“Recording can aid not only the innocent, the defense and the prosecution but also enhance public confidence in the criminal justice system by increasing transparency as to what was said and done when the suspect agreed to speak with the police. Furthermore, electronic recordings may help lessen the concern about false confessions and provide an objective and reliable record of what occurred during an interview. As the task force also notes, this prevents disputes about how an officer conducted him or herself or treated a suspect.”

Read the full article.
Read additional coverage.
Read about how mandatory recording of interrogations can help prevent wrongful convictions based on false confessions.

Tags: New York



Sunny Jacobs Stars in "The Exonerated" This Week

Posted: September 24, 2012 5:15 pm

Sonia “Sunny” Jacobs spoke with The New Yorker on the eve of her performance in “The Exonerated” at the Culture Project. Jacobs is one of six people freed from death row who are featured in the play by Jessica Blank and Erik Jensen. The current production stars Delroy Lindo, Stockard Channing, Lyle Lovett and others, and will feature Jacobs for just one week to play the role of herself.
Jacobs told The New Yorker:

“I was asked to fill in as a Sunny. At first, it was difficult, and then it was freeing. It is not easy to dig down inside and relive the most painful parts of one’s life night after night. But the overwhelming feelings of love that I felt from the cast and crew, and, afterward, from the audience, were very healing. I feel very blessed for having had the opportunity.”

The Innocence Project will participate in talkbacks after the performances on September 27, October 11 and November 1.
Read the full interview.
For more about the play and for tickets.

Tags: Florida, New York



NYPD and Innocence Project Awarded Federal Funds to Identify Wrongful Convictions

Posted: September 25, 2012 4:15 pm

The New York City Police Department, the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner and the Innocence Project have been awarded a National Institute of Justice grant totaling $1.25 million to catalogue crime scene evidence so that those seeking to prove their innocence through DNA testing can more readily get access to evidence in their case. According to a study of cases closed by the Innocence Project from 1996 to 2006, 50% of New York City cases were closed due to lost or destroyed evidence. Nationally, the figure from the same study was 22% of cases closed.
The funds are awarded through the National Institute of Justice’s Kirk Bloodsworth’s Postconviction DNA Testing Assistance Program, which was established in 2004 by the Justice for All Act and will be distributed over two years beginning on October 1, 2012. Bloodsworth was the first American who received the death penalty to be freed by DNA evidence.
The inability to locate evidence has hampered the Innocence Project’s efforts to clear people convicted in New York City for years, reported The New York Times.

Peter Neufeld, a co-founder of the Innocence Project, said that his organization had sought evidence — typically semen samples or blood stains — from the Police Department “in a couple of dozen” old cases only to learn that the police “simply couldn’t find” the evidence in its warehouses.

Alan Newton, who was exonerated after serving 21 years for a rape and robbery he didn’t commit, had to wait 12 years before the evidence was finally found in his case. Scott Fappiano, who also served 21 years for a rape DNA proved he didn’t commit, had to endure two additional years in prison while law enforcement conducted an unsuccessful search for the evidence in his case. The evidence that cleared him was ultimately located in a private lab.
The funds received by the Innocence Project will pay for a new staff member to expedite review of approximately 800 cases of people convicted in New York City who are seeking to prove their innocence though DNA testing. The Office of Chief Medical Examiner will receive funds to cover some of the costs of the DNA testing.
Read the full article.
Read the full press release.
Read about New York City cases that were closed when evidence could not be located at NYPD’s evidence warehouse.

Tags: New York, Scott Fappiano, Alan Newton, Evidence Preservation



New York Times Says Recording Interrogations Is Not Enough

Posted: September 25, 2012 5:50 pm

An editorial in Tuesday’s New York Times called New York City Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly’s announcement to begin video recording criminal interrogations a smart step for justice but urged state lawmakers to go further to prevent wrongful convictions. The Innocence Project and the New York State Justice Task Force, created by Chief Judge Jonathan Lippmann, have urged the state to adopt comprehensive criminal justice reforms, including a statewide policy mandating recording interrogations and also improvements to police lineup procedures to reduce the rate of eyewitness misidentification. The New York Times writes:

Earlier this year, the New York State Legislature unwisely rejected legislation backed by Mr. Lippman to require videotaping of interrogations in serious cases across the state. Mr. Kelly’s move, laudable though it is, is no substitute for enacting uniform and enforceable statewide standards mandating videotaped interrogations and also fixing skewed lineup procedures, another major cause of wrongful convictions.

As an expansion of the NYPD’s 2010 pilot program, every precinct in the city will now record entire interrogations in murder, assault and sexual assault cases. Across the state, more than two-thirds of police departments require officers to tape interrogations, according to the state’s Division of Criminal Justice Services.
New York State, Texas and Illinois lead the nation in wrongful convictions overturned through DNA testing.
Read the full editorial.
Read about how mandatory recording of interrogations can help prevent wrongful convictions based on false confessions.

Tags: New York



NYCLU Report Opens Window on Solitary Confinement Experience

Posted: October 2, 2012 2:50 pm

Tags: Louisiana, New York, Damon Thibodeaux



Science Thursday - October 4, 2012

Posted: October 4, 2012 4:45 pm

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From Running Stats to Running Miles

Posted: October 15, 2012 5:15 pm

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In Memory of George Whitmore Jr.

Posted: October 16, 2012 4:15 pm

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Posted: November 7, 2012 3:35 pm

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Central Park Five Exoneree Steps into Spotlight

Posted: November 21, 2012 11:45 am

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Science Thursday - December 13, 2012

Posted: December 13, 2012 12:15 pm

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Exoneration Anniversary: Central Park Five

Posted: December 19, 2012 10:00 am

Tags: New York, Antron McCray, Kevin Richardson, Yusef Salaam, Raymond Santana, Korey Wise



Hurricane Flooding Makes Evidence Inaccessible to NYPD

Posted: January 2, 2013 2:35 pm

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New York Governor Proposes Criminal Justice Reforms in State of the State Address

Posted: January 9, 2013 5:50 pm

Tags: New York, False Confessions, Eyewitness Identification, False Confessions, Eyewitness Misidentification



Science Thursday - January 17, 2013

Posted: January 17, 2013 11:30 am

Tags: North Carolina, Iowa, Minnesota, Virginia, New York, Science Thursday



New York Exonerees Lack Social Services

Posted: January 23, 2013 1:15 pm

Tags: New York, Korey Wise, Life After Exoneration, Fernando Bermudez



New York Times Urges Gov. Cuomo to Stay the Course and Mandate Criminal Justice Reforms

Posted: January 28, 2013 5:50 pm

Tags: New York, False Confessions, Eyewitness Identification



Innocence Project Co-Founders Honored with New York State Bar Association's Gold Medal

Posted: January 29, 2013 4:45 pm

Tags: New York



Could It Happen Today?

Posted: February 1, 2013 4:40 pm

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Central Park Five Exonerees to Speak at NYU

Posted: February 5, 2013 11:35 am

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Science Thursday - February 7, 2013

Posted: February 7, 2013 1:40 pm

Tags: North Carolina, Massachusetts, Texas, New York, Science Thursday



The Most Captive Audience

Posted: February 19, 2013 5:50 pm

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New York City Exoneree to Speak at Princeton

Posted: March 5, 2013 10:35 am

Tags: New Jersey, New York, Eyewitness Misidentification, Fernando Bermudez



New York State Leaders and Lawmakers Call for Better Indigent Defense

Posted: March 19, 2013 4:45 pm

Tags: New York, Bad Lawyering



New York Man Wrongfully Convicted of 1990 Crime Will Be Released

Posted: March 20, 2013 4:40 pm

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Conviction Integrity Unit Reviews Possible Wrongful Convictions

Posted: March 26, 2013 3:00 pm

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ProPublica Investigates Prosecutorial Misconduct in New York

Posted: April 3, 2013 4:15 pm

Tags: New York, Government Misconduct



Science News - April 4, 2013

Posted: April 4, 2013 3:25 pm

Tags: Massachusetts, Ohio, Virginia, New York, Science Thursday



Inadequate Defense Leads to a Vacated Conviction

Posted: April 12, 2013 3:50 pm

Tags: New York, Bad Lawyering



Buffalo News Calls for New York Senate to Pass Wrongful Conviction Reform

Posted: April 12, 2013 4:45 pm

Tags: New York, False Confessions, Eyewitness Identification



Watch: Filmmaker Ken Burns Discuss “The Central Park Five” on The Daily Show

Posted: April 12, 2013 5:40 pm

Tags: New York



Innocence Project Benefit to Honor Scandal star Tony Goldwyn, business leader Jack Taylor and the law firm Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson LLP

Posted: April 24, 2013 12:40 pm

Tags: New York



Science News - April 25, 2013

Posted: April 25, 2013 6:00 pm

Tags: Arizona, New York, Science Thursday



Recently Freed New Yorker Discusses Effects of Prison Life

Posted: May 1, 2013 5:20 pm

Tags: New York



Revolution Books to Screen After Innocence

Posted: May 6, 2013 3:00 pm

Tags: New York



The Long Road Exonerees Face to Clear Their Records

Posted: May 6, 2013 5:00 pm

Tags: Illinois, Wisconsin, New York, Vincent Moto, Audrey Edmunds



Conviction Integrity Unit to Review 50 Brooklyn Murder Cases

Posted: May 13, 2013 1:30 pm

Tags: New York



Innocent in America's Worst Jails

Posted: May 16, 2013 4:30 pm

Tags: Arizona, New York, Ray Krone



Science News - May 16, 2013

Posted: May 16, 2013 4:00 pm

Tags: Massachusetts, Nebraska, Washington, New York, Science Thursday



Science News - May 23, 2013

Posted: May 23, 2013 3:10 pm

Tags: Minnesota, Ohio, New York, Science Thursday



Apple Seeds for Justice

Posted: May 24, 2013 1:15 pm

Tags: New York, Fernando Bermudez



Confessions Become Point of Interest in Brooklyn Murder Case Review

Posted: June 13, 2013 6:00 pm

Tags: New York



Michael Morton Documentary to Screen at Human Rights Watch Film Festival

Posted: June 14, 2013 8:45 am

Tags: New York, Michael Morton



Urgent Help Needed to Pass Wrongful Conviction Reform in New York

Posted: June 19, 2013 5:20 pm

Tags: New York, False Confessions, Eyewitness Identification



New York City Council Members Call for Forensic Oversight

Posted: June 24, 2013 5:25 pm

Tags: New York, Unvalidated/Improper Forensics



ProPublica Questions Prosecutorial Accountability in Brooklyn Murder Case Review

Posted: June 25, 2013 2:15 pm

Tags: New York, Government Misconduct



An Exoneree Experiences Exonerating a Wrongfully Imprisoned Man

Posted: June 26, 2013 12:30 pm

Tags: New York, Jeff Deskovic



Science News - June 27, 2013

Posted: June 27, 2013 1:45 pm

Tags: Massachusetts, Virginia, New York, Science Thursday



Doubts Grow in Shaken Baby Syndrome Science

Posted: July 2, 2013 2:50 pm

Tags: New York



New York Fails to Pass Criminal Justice Reforms

Posted: July 8, 2013 12:45 pm

Tags: New York, Reforms, False Confessions, Eyewitness Identification



New York State to Spend $1M to Expand Video Interrogations

Posted: July 17, 2013 12:25 pm

Tags: New York



Albany Times-Union Commentary Laments New York State Legislature’s Failure to Enact Reforms

Posted: July 19, 2013 2:00 pm

Tags: New York, Frank Sterling



Science News - August 1, 2013

Posted: August 1, 2013 5:30 pm

Tags: Texas, Virginia, New York, Science Thursday



New York Man to File Civil Suit Three Decades After Wrongful Conviction

Posted: August 16, 2013 1:30 pm

Tags: New York



Team Innocence Project for the NYC Marathon

Posted: April 2, 2014 12:20 pm

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Court Appointed Defense Attorney Asks for Funds to Help Client's Case

Posted: September 4, 2013 12:45 pm

Tags: New York, Eyewitness Misidentification



No Apology, But $5.4 Million from City of Peekskill to Exoneree

Posted: September 5, 2013 4:00 pm

Tags: New York, Jeff Deskovic



Science News - September 6, 2013

Posted: September 6, 2013 10:30 am

Tags: North Carolina, New Jersey, Virginia, New York, Science Thursday



Coerced Confessions Not the Only Concern in Murder Case Review

Posted: September 6, 2013 5:15 pm

Tags: New York



A Place of Their Own

Posted: September 24, 2013 3:00 pm

Tags: Illinois, Louisiana, Minnesota, Texas, New York, Jeff Deskovic, Rickie Johnson, Michael Saunders, Damon Thibodeaux, David Wiggins, Exoneree Compensation



Science News - September 19, 2013

Posted: September 19, 2013 4:40 pm

Tags: Ohio, New York



"The Central Park Five": A Telling Account of Injustice and Lives Restored

Posted: September 19, 2013 4:55 pm

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New York Exoneree to Speak at Manhattanville College

Posted: October 9, 2013 3:00 pm

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Innocence Project Honored by New York Law Journal

Posted: October 11, 2013 1:00 pm

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THURSDAY: Raymond Satana of Central Park Five Featured in Ask Me Anything

Posted: October 23, 2013 11:10 am

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Police Fail to Record Interrogation in Notorious New York Murder Case

Posted: October 24, 2013 4:40 pm

Tags: New York, False Confessions



Team Innocence Project to Run the 2013 ING New York City Marathon

Posted: November 1, 2013 3:40 pm

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Brooklyn District Attorney Ordered to Release Files in Murder Case Review

Posted: November 15, 2013 12:50 pm

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Lack of Recorded Interrogation Could Affect Trial of Etan Patz Case

Posted: December 23, 2013 4:45 pm

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False Confessions in 2013

Posted: January 3, 2014 3:45 pm

Tags: California, Illinois, Pennsylvania, New York, False Confessions



Buffalo News Says New York State Needs to Enact Criminal Justice Reforms

Posted: January 6, 2014 2:55 pm

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Witness Claims She Was Forced to Implicate New York Man of Murder

Posted: January 7, 2014 2:50 pm

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New York Exoneree Shares His Story With CNN iReport

Posted: January 13, 2014 3:20 pm

Tags: New York, Fernando Bermudez



New York Man Receives Hearing on Actual Innocence Claim

Posted: January 16, 2014 4:40 pm

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Judge Orders Release of Two New York Women

Posted: January 24, 2014 4:40 pm

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New Brooklyn District Attorney Tasked with Responding to Wrongful Convictions

Posted: February 6, 2014 5:45 pm

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CBS Crimesider Features Two Stories of Compensation for Wrongfully Convicted

Posted: March 27, 2014 2:45 am

Tags: Texas, New York, Exoneree Compensation, Marty Tankleff



New York Woman Files Suit for Wrongful Conviction

Posted: April 1, 2014 6:25 am

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New York Man Cleared of 1989 Murder

Posted: April 9, 2014 5:15 pm

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Rally to Support ‘Central Park 5’

Posted: April 17, 2014 4:50 pm

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Uphill Battle after Exoneration

Posted: May 5, 2014 5:40 pm

Tags: New York, Life After Exoneration



Three Men to be Exonerated in Scarcella Review

Posted: May 6, 2014 5:45 pm

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This is New York’s Year to Pass Critical Reforms

Posted: May 20, 2014 4:45 pm

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Brooklyn District Attorney's Office Investigates another Innocence Claim

Posted: May 23, 2014 12:50 pm

Tags: New York



New York Judge Wants to Reform Plea Deal Process

Posted: May 27, 2014 5:30 pm

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New York Exoneree Earns Law Degree

Posted: May 30, 2014 5:15 pm

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Brooklyn Man Poised to be Exonerated Today

Posted: June 3, 2014 5:30 pm

Tags: New York



Tune-In: Dateline Follows a New York Man's Journey to Prove His Innocence

Posted: June 6, 2014 1:55 pm

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New York Man Cleared in Son's Death

Posted: June 13, 2014 5:45 pm

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Buffalo News Says Pass Reforms This Session

Posted: November 30, -0001 10:00 am

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Buffalo News Says Pass Reforms This Session

Posted: November 30, -0001 10:30 am

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Buffalo News Says Pass Reforms This Session

Posted: June 17, 2014 10:30 am

Tags: New York



New York City Poised for More Wrongful Conviction Suits

Posted: July 2, 2014 12:30 pm

Tags: New York



Wrongful Conviction Civil Suits Mounting in New York

Posted: July 31, 2014 3:00 pm

Tags: New York



Conviction Integrity Unit Adds 14 Murder Cases to Review

Posted: August 1, 2014 11:50 am

Tags: New York



New York Man Files Suit in Vermont for Wrongful Conviction

Posted: August 6, 2014 5:05 pm

Tags: Vermont, New York



Judge Signs off on $41 Million Settlement with ‘Central Park Five’

Posted: September 10, 2014 4:00 pm

Tags: New York, Antron McCray, Kevin Richardson, Yusef Salaam, Raymond Santana, Korey Wise



Brooklyn Convictions Overturned, Charges Dismissed

Posted: September 18, 2014 6:20 pm

Tags: New York



Delays in Compensation Hurt Exonerees, Benefit the State

Posted: September 23, 2014 3:05 pm

Tags: New York, Jeff Deskovic



Do New Legal Changes Give Prosecutors a Potentially Dangerous Amount of Power?

Posted: October 3, 2014 4:00 pm

Tags: New York, Guilty Pleas



New York Man to Be Cleared of Murder

Posted: November 17, 2014 5:30 pm

Tags: New York



The Barnes Family Celebrates the Holidays

Posted: December 10, 2014 5:25 am

Tags: New York, Steven Barnes



Executions Continue Despite Exonerations

Posted: December 12, 2014 4:12 pm

In Wednesday’s edition of his Washington Post column The Watch, Radley Balko rounded up the exonerations from the past week including Josue Ortiz of Buffalo, New York, who was released Tuesday after spending over a decade in the Attica Correctional Facility.

Ortiz was convicted in 2004 after confessing to the murders of brothers Nelson and Miguel Camacho. A decade later, a different perpetrator has confessed to the crime and claims Ortiz was not involved.  A FBI task force has reopened the investigation. 

District Attorney Frank Sedita dropped his opposition, allowing Ortiz to be released on Tuesday. 

“I cannot, in good conscience, permit a man to remain in jail when I have a reasonable doubt concerning his guilt,” Sedita wrote in a statement on Monday.

Kwame Ajamu, the final co-defendant in the murder of Harold Franks, a Cleveland money-order salesman, was exonerated on Tuesday. Along with his brother Wiley Bridgeman and Ricky Jackson, Ajamu was convicted in 1975 based on the witness testimony of Eddie Vernon, who recanted just last month after speaking with his pastor. Bridgeman and Jackson were exonerated and released in November. The trio served more time behind bars than any other exonerated inmates, according to the National Registry of Exonerations.

Balko pointed out that the recent spate of exonerations should inspire state lawmakers to rethink capital punishment and to put scheduled executions on hold. Unfortunately, he wrote, two executions were also carried out this week. Robert Wayne Holsey was put to death in Georgia on Tuesday and Paul Goodwin, who was found by a psychologist to have the “mental understanding of a 13-year-old” was executed in Missouri on Wednesday. 

Tags: Georgia, Missouri, Ohio, New York



Fernando Bermudez Reaches Settlement with New York For Wrongful Conviction

Posted: December 24, 2014 12:00 pm

Tags: New York, Exoneree Compensation, Fernando Bermudez



New York District Attorney Endorses Reforms to Prevent Misidentification

Posted: January 5, 2015 4:20 pm

Tags: New York, Steven Barnes, Eyewitness Identification, Eyewitness Misidentification



Another Brooklyn Man to be Exonerated

Posted: January 6, 2015 4:51 pm

Tags: New York, Government Misconduct



Brooklyn D.A. Seeks to Correct Injustice with Conviction Review Unit

Posted: January 7, 2015 6:09 pm

The New Yorker published a long piece Tuesday on Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson’s Conviction Review Unit.

Thompson created the unit when he took office in January 2014. He assembled a team of 10 lawyers to review wrongful-conviction claims and questionable convictions, many of which occurred under the leadership of the previous D.A., Charles Hynes.

“According to [Assistant District Attorney] Hale, the unit has accepted about a hundred cases for review since March, 2014, and has made a determination in thirty-one. Most of the cases that the unit has handled so far involve crimes that were committed in the early nineteen-nineties, during the highest period of criminal activity in the history of Brooklyn, which were also Hynes’s first years as D.A. The highest priority for the unit, Thompson says, is to give freedom to people who were convicted during the concomitant era of mass incarceration but don’t belong in prison. He likens the work of the C.R.U. to that of a hospital’s triage center.”

Read the full article here.

Tags: New York, Conviction



New York Times Editorial Urges Compensation for Wrongly Convicted

Posted: January 14, 2015 3:30 pm

The New York Times published an editorial Wednesday on the importance of monetary compensation for wrongful convictions and calling for states to provide exonerees the same critical re-entry services that parolees get upon release, like job training and substance-abuse treatment. 

The article comes on the heels of recent news that New York City will pay a total of $17 million in settlements to three brothers who were exonerated in May.

The convictions of Robert Hill, Alvena Jennette and Darryl Austin were among the 130 handled by homicide detective Louis Scarcella which are now being reevaluated by Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson’s Conviction Integrity Unit. The trio spent a combined total of 60 years incarcerated for murders they didn’t commit. Darryl Austin died in prison in 2000.

The editorial notes that 20 states still do not have laws entitling wrongfully convicted individuals to compensation. In states with compensation laws, the process is often long and complicated. 

Exonerees and their advocates have lobbied to pass compensation bills in numerous states, but in recent years such efforts have failed in Alaska, Arizona, Georgia, Hawaii, Michigan, Pennsylvania and South Carolina.

Read the full editorial here.

Tags: New York, Exonerees, Exoneree Compensation



New York Man Cleared by DNA of Wife’s Murder Dies in Car Crash

Posted: January 26, 2015 3:50 pm

Tags: New York