August 26, 2020
A recent article in Gothamist profiled Jawaun Fraser’s lawsuit against the City of New York. Mr. Fraser’s conviction was overturned when it came out after trial that the narcotics officers who arrested him—and provided the only evidence against him at trial—had been sued dozens of times for allegedly making false arrests and fabricating evidence.
You can read the article here.
August 06, 2020
The City of New York has agreed to pay $1.7 million to settle a wrongful conviction lawsuit brought by Shuaib O’Neill. As alleged in the lawsuit, NYPD officers falsely claimed to have found marijuana and a gun on Mr. O’Neill during a stop-and-frisk, and coerced a false confession from him. Mr. O’Neill served three years in prison and more than two years on parole before his conviction was reversed on direct appeal.
The firm previously won a settlement of $699,000 for Mr. O’Neill in a parallel action in the New York Court of Claims.
July 15, 2020
While the COVID-19 pandemic has affected all our lives, it has had an especially deadly toll behind bars. People in jail and prison are among the most vulnerable, and lack the ability to protect themselves by social distancing. Since the pandemic hit, associates Jacob Loup and Matt Wasserman have filed several sentence-reduction motions in federal court on behalf of pro bono clients who suffer from health conditions that make them particularly susceptible to COVID-19, winning the early release of Lea Ann Blystone and Christopher Reese.
You can view the court order granting the motion for Mr. Reese here and the order granting the motion for Ms. Blystone here.
May 21, 2020
The City of New York has agreed to pay $1.725 million to settle a lawsuit brought by Ricardo Benitez, who was wrongfully convicted and incarcerated for almost 6 years for an armed robbery he did not commit.
The firm also represented Mr. Benitez in a parallel Court of Claims lawsuit against the State of New York which resulted in a settlement of $675,000.
March 03, 2020
Firm principal Joel Rudin was quoted in a recent New Yorker article about the Manhattan District Attorney’s Conviction Integrity Unit. The article details the shortcomings of the Manhattan DA’s Conviction Integrity Unit through the specific cases of Eric Smokes and David Warren, who were sentenced as teenagers and maintain their innocence to this day.
November 11, 2019
Firm principal Joel Rudin was highlighted in a recent Queens Eagle article for his depositions of the former Acting Queens County District Attorney, John M. Ryan, and other executives within the DA’s Office. Joel conducted these depositions for three lawsuits claiming that the firm’s clients were wrongfully convicted because of a policy or practice of prosecutorial misconduct by the Queens District Attorney’s Office. The article cites a list of nearly 120 convictions compiled by the firm where appellate judges ruled that the Queens Assistant District Attorneys failed to disclose information or otherwise committed misconduct.
June 20, 2019
Yesterday the firm, co-counseling with other attorneys, won an important victory in the U.S. Supreme Court in McDonough v. Smith. The firm’s client, Edward McDonough, was an elections official in Troy, New York, whom prosecutors charged with ballot tampering after fabricating incriminating evidence against him. The malfeasance of these officials was uncovered and McDonough was acquitted. He then sued the officials for violating his constitutional rights.
April 10, 2019
Firm principal Joel Rudin was quoted in a recent ProPublica article on the criminal justice reforms passed by the New York State Legislature in 2019. In a 2013 series, ProPublica had covered the cases of several wrongfully convicted individuals represented by the firm, including Jabbar Collins. This article highlighted that the firm had won a $13 million settlement for Collins from New York City and New York State for his wrongful conviction and incarceration.
January 29, 2019
Today, in an important decision, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit reaffirmed that a city may be held liable for the unlawful policies and misconduct of its district attorney’s office. Bellamy v. City of New York, 914 F.3d 727 (2d Cir. 2019). A federal district court had granted summary judgment to the defendants, holding that the City of New York could not be held liable for the Queens District Attorney’s Office’s policies. The firm then came in on appeal, obtaining a decision holding that the City of New York was the final policymaking authority and thus could be sued under § 1983 for a wrongful conviction resulting from the policies or practices of the Queens District Attorney’s Office. Bellamy is also the first decision from a federal circuit court to recognize a civil cause of action for summation misconduct.
You can read the decision here. The firm remains co-counsel to Kareem Bellamy in the district court, where he continues to seek justice for the 14 years he spent behind bars for a murder he did not commit.