Court Rules That Two Men Were Wrongly Convicted of 1992 Brooklyn Kidnapping

Categories: Courts, Justice

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In the early hours of January 1, 1992, 16-year-old Jennifer Negron was kidnapped and killed and left outside on an East New York street corner. Detectives found a headband inside a car nearby. A witness said she saw a man forcing Negron into that car and another man in the driver's seat. The witness identified Everton Wagstaffe, then 23, and Reginald Connor, then 24, as those men. They maintained their innocence from the start. A judge dismissed the murder charge against them for lack of evidence, but they were convicted of kidnapping in 1993. They were sentenced to up to 25 years in prison.

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Solitary Confinement at Rikers Island is Torture and 'Inexcusably Extreme,' Bronx Defenders Say

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Photo by Flickr user Matt Green
An entrance to Rikers Island.
Inmates are placed in solitary confinement at Rikers Island for "inexcusably extreme" amounts of time, a new report charges, "egregiously disproportionate" to the infractions they are alleged to have committed. While in solitary, it can be difficult for inmates to get access to the most basic of services, including food, showers, and phone time. That's according to the Bronx Defenders, a criminal defense nonprofit that represents several hundred thousand people in the Bronx each year. They've just released "Voices From the Box," a report on the conditions their clients experienced in solitary at Rikers, New York City's largest jail facility.

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Inmate Can Sue Rikers Island for Keeping Him in Isolation During Muslim Prayer Service

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On November 22, 2011, Rikers Island guards put Kevin Phillip into a segregation housing unit. It was punishment for something he did. Phillip spent 36 days there. On two Fridays over that stretch, Phillip asked the guards if he could attend a Muslim prayer service at the jail. The guards said that he was not allowed to while he was on punishment in the isolation unit.

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New York's Shield Law Protects Reporter From Subpoena

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Shield law to protect journalists finds success in an unlikely place.
It came in a strange context, but New York's "shield law" seems to have done its job recently, helping a reporter protect his sources and work products after he was subpoenaed to testify in an Oklahoma divorce case.

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Bronx District Attorney Defends Richard Rosario Conviction

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Richard Rosario and his daughter Amanda.
Rosario family.
Richard Rosario was convicted of murder in 1998. Two eye witnesses had identified him as the man who shot 17-year-old George Collazo on June 19, 1996 in the Bronx. Rosario, whose case we detailed in a May feature story, has proclaimed his innocence since the day of his arrest. The most compelling evidence supporting his story: nine witnesses have testified that Rosario was in Deltona, Florida on and around the day of the crime.

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"DREAMers" in New York City Less Likely to be Approved For Relief from Deportation, at Least So Far

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Applicants for a deportation deferment program, sometimes called "DREAMers," are having less success in New York City.
New York City is running a below average approval rate for undocumented immigrants seeking relief under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, according to a report from a Brookings Institution researcher.


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Democratic Candidate Zephyr Teachout Calls Cuomo's Residency Challenge To Her Campaign "Baseless"

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Photo by Anna Merlan
Teachout, in blue, with supporters at a rally before her court appearance.
There's still some debate about how long one must live here before they're considered a true New Yorker: Ten years? Twenty? But for the purposes of running for governor of the state, it's clear: You have to have lived here for five years. It's on those grounds that Governor Andrew Cuomo's campaign is mounting a legal challenge to try and knock his Democratic challenger, Zephyr Teachout, off the ballot. In Brooklyn State Supreme Court this morning, at the start of a trial expected to last several days, Cuomo's lawyers got Teachout to admit she'd used her parents' address in Vermont as her permanent address on her tax filings for the entire time she's lived in New York.


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Prisoner Who Refused Water During Ramadan Can Sue on Religious Grounds

Categories: Courts, Religion

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In November 2003, prison guards at the Wende Correctional Facility in upstate New York ordered Darryl Holland to take a drug test. He had three hours to provide a urine sample. But the order was not so simple. Holland was Muslim and it was Ramadan and he had not drunk any water all day. The guards gave him water to drink for the sample. Holland refused to drink it and asked if the guards could take the sample after sundown, once his fast was over.

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Upstate Judge Indicted For Lying About Being Beaten With a Toilet Lid

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Image courtesy of the Seneca County Sheriff's Department
Judge Barto's mugshot
Waterloo Village isn't the kind of place that makes the news much. It's a tiny place in Seneca County, population just a hair over 5,000, located about 270 miles north of New York City. It's so small and so quaint that one of its only judges, Justice Roger W. Barto, is also the sexton of the local cemetery. (A sexton oversees the graveyard's maintenance. Most towns got rid of theirs a couple hundred years ago.) And he's allegedly tripling up on roles this week, also becoming the town's mastermind criminal. A Seneca County grand jury indicted the judge on five felony and four misdemeanor charges for allegedly lying about being viciously beaten with a toilet lid last fall.

On a Saturday night in September of 2013, Barto was discovered in his courtroom, lying on the floor. He was taken to Rochester Memorial Hospital, where he told police he'd been locking up the courtroom when someone choked him from behind and hit him over the head with the heavy porcelain lid of a toilet tank.



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Bad Legislation in Albany Causes Cyberbullying Law to Violate First Amendment

Categories: Courts, Internet

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In 2010, Marquan Mackey-Meggs, a 15-year-old student at Cohoes High School in Albany County, started a Facebook group called "Cohoes Flame."

On the page, according to court documents, he posted "photographs of high-school classmates and other adolescents, with detailed descriptions of their alleged sexual practices and predilections, sexual partners and other types of personal information."

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