'Illiterate' Defendant Who Couldn't Understand the Word 'Attorney' Nonetheless Convicted

Categories: Courts

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A defendant in over his head gives a faulty confession.
When 18-year-old Willi Adames was held by police in connection with a fatal shooting in June of 2008, he ostensibly waived his right to an attorney before giving a detailed, recorded statement implicating himself in the crime.

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OWS Activist Cecily McMillan Found Not Guilty of Interfering with Arrest in Union Square Subway

Photo by Anna Merlan
McMillan and her attorney Martin Stolar await a verdict on October 10
A jury has found former Occupy Wall Street activist Cecily McMillan not guilty of interfering with an arrest in a Union Square subway station. McMillan was charged with obstruction of governmental administration on December 7, 2013, when two police officers said she interfered with their investigation of two people they suspected of turnstile-jumping. McMillan, who faced up to a year in jail on the charges, hugged her attorney, Martin Stolar, when the verdict was read, then yelled "thank you!" at the jury as they departed.

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Why Are New York Courts Lumping in Sex Workers With the Victims of Human Trafficking?

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Red Umbrella Project executive director Audacia Ray speaking to sex-worker advocates last year.
One year ago, a coalition of New York state prosecutors, judges, and defense attorneys announced a bold plan: a system of special courts to try people charged with prostitution-related offenses, one meant to help those defendants leave the sex trade by offering them counseling and assistance instead of jail time. It was dubbed the Human Trafficking Intervention Initiative. In the words of Judge A. Gail Prudenti, one of the judges involved in helping to define the court's scope, the system sprang from a desire "to intervene in the lives of trafficked human beings." Prudenti added, "While there still is an antiquated view that prostitution is a chosen profession, many individuals who end up in New York courts on prostitution charges are victims of trafficking, recruited into the commercial sex industry by force, fraud, or coercion."

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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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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

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"

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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