Joel Rudin, the firm’s principal, has been handling criminal trials and appeals for more than 40 years. In 2011, he was honored with the Thurgood S. Marshall Award for Outstanding Criminal Defense Practitioner by the New York State Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers for his work representing the wrongfully convicted. He has won criminal appeals in the U.S. Supreme Court and state and federal appellate courts, hard-fought acquittals at state and federal trials, and the exoneration of numerous individuals who were wrongfully convicted. He works on each case with an extraordinarily talented team of passionate, idealistic younger attorneys and staffers determined to obtain justice for the firm’s clients.
Based upon Joel’s brief and oral argument, the Supreme Court, reversing a federal drug conviction, unanimously limited the power of federal magistrate judges to preside at jury selection at federal criminal trials where the defendant has objected. Gomez v. United States, 490 U.S. 858 (1989).
Two years later, Joel’s brief and oral argument nearly convinced the Court to extend the rule in Gomez to defendants who have consented to have magistrates preside. Peretz v. United States, 501 U.S. 923 (1991) (5-4 decision).
Joel’s petition for certiorari resulted in a highly unusual decision by the Supreme Court, without formal briefing or oral argument, to reverse the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit on a sentencing issue. Rodriguez v. United States, 480 U.S. 522 (1987).
As co-counsel with Neal Katyal, the former Acting Solicitor General of the United States, Joel was part of a team that convinced the Supreme Court to expand the rights of criminal defendants, victimized by police fabrication of evidence, to sue for damages. McDonough v. Smith, 139 S. Ct. 2149 (2019).
In 2021, Joel won the appellate reversal of a first-degree rape conviction in Queens County. See People v. King, 192 A.D.3d 1140 (2d Dep’t 2021). Based on briefing by associate Jacob Loup, the Appellate Division held that the trial court had violated Mr. King’s constitutional right to be present when it examined the complaining witness in chambers, outside the presence of Mr. King or his lawyer. The court also found that the trial judge erred in admitting an alleged statement by Mr. King. After the case was sent back to the trial court, Joel and Jacob got the entire case dismissed, with prejudice, after the judge agreed that the prosecution had violated Mr. King’s constitutional right to a speedy trial by waiting nearly five years to indict him and that the prosecutors had committed misconduct by knowingly presenting false DNA testimony and concealing exculpatory information in the grand jury.
In 2020, based upon briefs written by associate Jacob Loup, Joel won the reversal of a Suffolk County murder conviction because the trial judge made an improper deal with a witness to testify for the prosecution. See People v. Greenspan, 186 A.D.3d 505 (2d Dep’t 2020). In January 2021, Jacob’s motion convinced the trial court to dismiss the case.
Joel convinced the New York Court of Appeals to reverse a Queens murder conviction because of the judge’s unfair handling of a jury note. See People v. Taylor, 26 N.Y.3d 217 (2015). Then, along with George Goltzer, who is of counsel to the firm, and associate Haran Tae, he won Mr. Taylor’s complete acquittal at a three-week retrial in 2017. In September 2021, the firm secured a $3 million settlement for Mr. Taylor in its lawsuit against the City of New York on his behalf.
Joel won Derik’s appeal from a manslaughter conviction in Manhattan due to the trial judge’s erroneous denial of a defense challenge for cause to a juror. See People v. Hausman, 285 A.D.2d 352 (1st Dep’t 2001). Joel then won a full acquittal at a retrial, getting a key prosecution witness to confess that he and the shooting victim were going to administer a “beatdown” to Derik before Derik shot him in self-defense.
In a federal murder and narcotics prosecution of an undercover police detective, Joel won a complete acquittal after a six week criminal trial, a landmark federal court of appeals decision permitting a civil lawsuit to go forward against the prosecutors, and $2.25 million in damages and fees. The case was chronicled in the New York Times (here, here, and here) including in two pieces by Times columnist Bob Herbert (here and here) and also featured in New York Magazine and the Los Angeles Times.
Joel’s representation of noted “jailhouse lawyer” Jabbar Collins resulted in a highly unusual grant of federal habeas corpus relief on a murder conviction, after 16 years in prison, due to the prosecutor’s concealment of exculpatory evidence and illegal coercion of witnesses. The case, prominently covered in the news, helped lead to the 2013 defeat of Brooklyn DA Charles J. Hynes after 24 years in office, the election of reform candidate Ken Thompson, and the formation of Brooklyn’s widely praised Conviction Review Unit. The lawsuit proved pervasive misconduct by DA Hynes’s office, including the illegal imprisonment in airport motels of uncooperative witnesses. After getting Hynes to confess misconduct and Jabbar’s innocence during a videotaped deposition, Joel recovered $13 million for Jabbar in state and federal lawsuits. A federal judge, in an important decision, upheld Jabbar’s right to sue New York City for the disciplinary failures and other illegal practices of the Brooklyn DA’s Office under Charles Hynes. Collins v. City of New York, 923 F. Supp. 2d 462 (E.D.N.Y. 2013). The case was covered on the front page of the Wall Street Journal (see later WSJ coverage here and here), chronicled in the New York Times (e.g., here, here, here, and here) and New York Daily News (here, here, and here), and also covered in ProPublica, among other outlets.
Danny Colon & Anthony Ortiz
Representing Danny Colon, Joel convinced a state judge at a hearing on a 440 motion to find that a Manhattan prosecutor had failed to disclose exculpatory evidence, but the judge declined to vacate the double-murder conviction. However, Joel successfully appealed to the New York Court of Appeals and won an unanimous decision reversing Danny’s conviction. People v. Colon, 13 N.Y.3d 343 (2009). Joel then convinced the Manhattan DA’s Office to dismiss the indictment without a retrial and, suing New York City for misconduct by the DA’s Office, recovered $9 million in damages for Danny and his co-defendant, Anthony Ortiz, in 2014. Their story was covered by the New York Times (here and here), the New York Daily News, and the New York Post, among other news outlets.
In 2001, Donnell Perkins was convicted of a murder that occurred in 1999, when he was just 17. Troubled by the weakness of the evidence—the identification of Donnell by a single eyewitness who gave a description that didn’t even match Donnell—firm principal Joel Rudin agreed in 2015 to represent Donell pro bono. A seven-year battle with the Brooklyn D.A.’s Office ensued. Joel 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. When the Brooklyn D.A.’s Conviction Review Unit didn’t act, Joel and Jacob filed a 440 motion on Donnell’s behalf. At the 440 hearing, Joel and Jacob—along with counsel for Donnell’s co-defendant, Kareem Mayo—presented testimony from the ex-wife, an ophthalmologist, and a psychologist specializing in eyewitness identifications. In January 2023, Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Dena Douglas granted the motion, overturning Donnell’s 22-year-old conviction. A few months later, the D.A.’s Office agreed to dismiss the indictment. The firm is currently representing Donnell in lawsuits arising from his wrongful conviction.
Joel agreed to a federal judge’s request that he handle Julio Negron’s federal habeas petition pro bono. Returning to state court to pursue a new Brady claim, Joel filed a 440 motion, and then two appeals, before finally convincing the New York Court of Appeals to overturn Julio’s attempted murder conviction because of misconduct by the prosecutor and errors by Julio’s trial attorney. People v. Negron, 26 N.Y.3d 262 (2015). He then convinced the trial judge, in 2017, to dismiss the indictment because the same prosecutor had obtained the original indictment fraudulently. The firm later recovered $6.25 million for Julio in civil-rights lawsuit.
The Bronx Five
During the 1980s, a national hysteria arose over mostly false allegations of sexual abuse at daycare centers across the country. There were five highly-publicized such prosecutions and convictions in the Bronx, resulting in sentences ranging from 25 to 90 years. Joel won the freedom, and the dismissal of all charges, for four of the defendants, and the precedent he established in the New York Court of Appeals led to the fifth defendant’s case being dismissed, too. Joel’s work on these cases was covered by the Los Angeles Times, the New York Times (here, here, and here), DemocracyNow!, and Newsday, among other outlets.
First, Joel won freedom for Franklin Beauchamp, convincing New York’s highest court that the indictment was defective and unfair. People v. Beauchamp, 74 N.Y.2d 639 (1989).
Then, Joel won freedom for Jesus Torres, arguing, in a 440 motion, that his trial attorney was ineffective for failing to challenge a similar indictment on the same ground.
Next, for Alberto Ramos, Joel won a 440 motion after proving that the prosecutor had suppressed evidence showing that the rape case against Ramos had been fabricated. Joel defeated the prosecution’s appeal. Later, in a groundbreaking civil rights lawsuit, Joel proved that the prosecutor’s misconduct had been caused by the unlawful policies of the Bronx DA and recovered $5 million from New York City, at the time the largest such recovery ever in New York State. See Ramos v. City of New York, 285 A.D.2d 284 (1st Dep’t 2001).
Finally, Joel won federal habeas corpus relief for the Reverend Nathaniel T. Grady, Jr., a prominent civil rights leader falsely convicted of rape. Grady v. Artuz, 931 F. Supp. 1048 (S.D.N.Y. 1996). Reverend Grady was freed after ten unspeakable years in prison and all charges were dismissed.