January 24, 2023

Law firm overturns 22-year-old murder conviction


Donnell Perkins spent almost 22 years in prison for a murder he did not commit. Yesterday, our firm won a state-court motion to vacate his conviction after a seven-year battle with the Brooklyn D.A.’s Office. We proved that the single eyewitness in the case had misled the jury about his eyesight and that his identification of our client could not be trusted.

As reported today by the New York Law Journal, Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Dena Douglas vacated our client’s 2001 murder conviction following a hearing that consumed 22 days from June to December 2022. Although the eyewitness’s description of the suspect didn’t fit our client, police used a highly suggestive lineup to produce an identification, which became the only evidence at trial. At the time Donnell was identified, he was just 17 years old and had no criminal record.  

In 2015, firm principal Joel Rudin, troubled by the weakness of the evidence, agreed to represent Donnell pro bono. He and associate Jacob Loup learned from the eyewitness’s ex-wife that, contrary to the eyewitness’s trial testimony that he wore glasses only for reading, in fact he wore thick-lensed eyeglasses in 1999 for all activities. He wasn’t wearing his glasses at the time of the murder, and thus his ability to clearly see the perpetrators and to reliably identify them was substantially impaired.

We brought this evidence to the Brooklyn D.A.’s Conviction Review Unit, but when the CRU didn’t act, we filed a 440 motion on Donnell’s behalf. At the hearing, Joel and Jacob—along with co-counsel Ron Kuby, who represented Donnell’s co-defendant, Kareem Mayo—presented testimony from the ex-wife, an ophthalmologist, and a psychologist specializing in eyewitness identifications. You can read the decision granting the motion here.

December 12, 2022

After winning appellate reversal of first-degree rape conviction, firm gets case dismissed with prejudice


A Queens judge has granted our firm’s motion to dismiss the rape indictment of our client, John King, with prejudice, because the Queens District Attorney violated Mr. King’s constitutional right to a speedy trial and because of prosecutorial misconduct in the grand jury. (We previously won the appellate reversal of Mr. King’s conviction after he had served about five years in state prison. Read our appellate brief here. Read the Appellate Division’s decision, People v. King, 192 A.D.3d 1140 (2d Dep’t), here.)

It is exceedingly rare for a New York court to find a violation of the constitutional right to a speedy trial. However, in this case, the court found that the prosecution committed such a violation by waiting nearly five years to indict Mr. King. As a result of this ruling, the prosecution may not seek to prosecute Mr. King again.

Equally remarkably, Justice Gary F. Miret, a former Queens prosecutor, dismissed the indictment because the grand-jury prosecutor—the current chief of the Queens DA’s Special Victims Bureau—had impaired the integrity of the grand jury by knowingly presenting false DNA testimony and concealing that the complainant had initially recanted her accusations. The court further found that both the grand-jury and trial prosecutors, whom it named, had “failed in their duty of fair dealing to the accused and of candor to the motion and trial courts by failing to disclose” the falsity of the DNA testimony.

You can read the entire decision dismissing the indictment here.

Our law firm has previously won five seven-figure civil rights settlements against the City of New York due to misconduct by Queens prosecutors (see here, here, and here), and has succeeded in overturning several felony convictions on appeal or through CPL 440.10 motions due to evidence-withholding and other prosecutorial misconduct.

Jacob “Coby” Loup authored the legal briefs on appeal and at the trial court level that won Mr. King his two victories. The appeal was argued by firm principal Joel B. Rudin.

November 02, 2022

Firm settles Black Lives Matter protestor’s excessive force lawsuit for $215k


The firm today settled the false arrest, excessive force, and First Amendment retaliation lawsuit of client Ahmed Sami for $215,000, inclusive of fees. On June 2, 2020, Mr. Sami and his friends were heading home after protesting the murder of George Floyd when a group of officers violently tackled and arrested them. Officers then applied excessively tight flexcuffs to Mr. Sami’s wrists and ignored his complaints of excruciating pain for hours while he was detained. Mr. Sami still suffers from pain, numbness, and limited mobility in his wrists years after the incident. The complaint asserted claims against the individual officers who assaulted Mr. Sami and the City of New York for the NYPD’s deliberate indifference to repeated injuries caused by its use of flexcuffs against protestors.

July 25, 2022

Law360 covers firm’s filing of Buffalo Five wrongful conviction lawsuits


Law360 reported in depth on the firm’s filing of federal lawsuits on behalf of John Walker, Jr. and Darryl Boyd seeking $112 million in damages each for their wrongful convictions and imprisonment. The article summarizes the police and prosecutorial misconduct alleged in the complaints, including evidence fabrication, coercion of witnesses, and failure to disclose evidence favorable to the defense. The article also details firm principal Joel Rudin’s past success bringing innovative lawsuits holding counties in New York State civilly liable for misconduct by individual prosecutors for which they have full immunity from suit. Read the article here.

July 14, 2022

Firm defeats motion for partial summary judgment in SDNY


The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York denied the City of New York’s motion for partial summary judgment and held that all of firm client Jawaun Fraser’s claims could proceed to trial.  Mr. Fraser alleges that defendants fabricated evidence of robbery against him, initiated a malicious prosecution, and violated Brady v. Maryland when they disclosed to the defense only two of the 38 lawsuits filed against the team of narcotics officers who arrested him. Throughout its decision, the court incorporated by reference arguments from the firm’s opposition brief. You can read the court’s decision here.

July 07, 2022

Firm files lawsuits on behalf of John Walker and Darryl Boyd, two surviving members of the Buffalo Five


The firm and co-counsel WilmerHale filed federal lawsuits on behalf of John Walker and Darryl Boyd, two surviving members of the Buffalo Five who were wrongfully convicted of murder in 1976.  The lawsuits seek a total of $224 million against the City of Buffalo, the County of Erie, and several former detectives for causing Walker and Boyd to spend a total of 50 years in prison and another 40 years on parole.  The complaints allege that Buffalo detectives coerced two teenage friends of Walker and Boyd to testify falsely against them, knowing the testimony was false.  The complaints further allege that the Buffalo Police Department and the Erie County District Attorney’s Office concealed powerful evidence that a neighbor of the murder victim committed the crime.

Walker and Boyd are represented by the Law Offices of Joel B. Rudin and WilmerHale.  The Buffalo News reported on the filings in a front-page story here.  Buffalo television channels and radio stations covered the press conference today announcing the lawsuits here, here, here, here, and here.  You can read the complaints here and here.

March 08, 2022

Joel Rudin is quoted in WSJ article about Ghislaine Maxwell trial


In his capacity as vice chair of the Amicus Curiae Committee of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, on February 24, 2022, Mr. Rudin filed an amicus brief in support of the motion of Ghislaine Maxwell, the defendant in the infamous Jeffrey Epstein sex trafficking case, for a new trial due to misconduct by a juror in misrepresenting his background as a sex-crime victim. Today Mr. Rudin was quoted in a report in the Wall Street Journal on the importance of Maxwell’s post-conviction motion in safeguarding the constitutional right to a fair and impartial jury. You can read the article here. The brief, authored by leading white-collar defense attorney Abbe Lowell and edited by Mr. Rudin, is reproduced here.

December 13, 2021

New York Daily News reports on firm’s recent settlements totaling $17.25 million


On December 12, the New York Daily News reported on the law firm’s settlements, in the last five months, of three cases alleging prosecutorial misconduct by the Queens District Attorney’s Office, totaling $17.25 million. Firm principal Joel Rudin was quoted extensively in the article about the evidence our firm unearthed concerning the history of misconduct at the Queens DA’s Office and the District Attorney’s failure to discipline the responsible prosecutors. The clients who recovered include Kareem Bellamy ($8 million), Julio Negron ($6.25 million) and Rhian Taylor ($3 million). Mr. Rudin succeeded in overturning both Mr. Negron’s and Mr. Taylor’s convictions through appeals to New York’s highest court, the Court of Appeals, then won a complete dismissal of Mr. Negron’s case and Mr. Taylor’s full acquittal at a retrial, before bringing the successful lawsuits. Senior associate Jacob Loup, together with Mr. Rudin, led the firm’s efforts in the Negron case. The Bellamy case was handled by a team of attorneys that, in addition to our firm, included Ilann Maazel and Earl Ward at Emery Celli Brinckerhoff Abady Ward & Maazel and solo practitioner Thomas Hoffman.

December 02, 2021

Joel Rudin publishes article on exoneration of alleged Malcolm X assassins


Today the New York State Bar Association published an online article by firm principal Joel Rudin on the recent exonerations of the men convicted in 1966 of killing Malcolm X. In Reversing the Malcolm X Convictions: How It Happened, How Far We’ve Come, How Far We Need To Go, Mr. Rudin analyzes the prosecutions and wrongful convictions of Muhammad Aziz and Khalil Islam, diagnoses what went wrong in those prosecutions, and discusses how the criminal-adjudication system has improved over the past decades but still does far too little to prevent wrongful prosecutions and convictions. Read the piece here.

December 01, 2021

Firm settles wrongful conviction lawsuit for $6.25 million


The New York Daily News reported today our law firm’s settlement, filed yesterday in Federal Court in Brooklyn, resolving our client Julio Negron’s wrongful conviction lawsuit for $6.25 million. Mr. Negron, a school custodian, had served nine years and nine months in prison after being falsely convicted in Queens in 2006 for attempted murder. Asked by Federal District Judge Dora Irizarry to represent Mr. Negron pro bono, firm principal Joel Rudin worked for four years, bringing actions at every level of the New York State court system, until he succeeded in convincing the New York Court of Appeals to reverse Mr. Negron’s conviction for misconduct by the prosecutor in withholding exculpatory evidence. Mr. Rudin then convinced the trial court to dismiss the entire case because of prosecutorial misconduct in the grand jury. Our firm’s civil rights lawsuit alleging police and prosecutorial misconduct is the fourth civil rights lawsuit the firm has settled against the City since May 2020 based on pervasive misconduct we uncovered by the Queens DA’s Office, as recently reported in Gothamist.