In 2006, a judge vacated the conviction of Cy Greene, who had spent more than 22 years in prison for a 1983 murder in Brooklyn. Greene had produced evidence suggesting that prosecutors had hidden information pointing to his innocence.
Wikimedia Commons Former BK DA Charles Hynes
On Thursday, New York state agreed to pay Jabbar Collins $3 million for his 16-year wrongful imprisonment. It was the latest in a string of high-profile, high-priced settlements this year stemming from wrongful convictions in New York city during the crack era. In January, the city agreed to pay David Ranta $6.4 million for 23-year wrongful imprisonment. In June, the city announced a $140 million settlement with the five men wrongfully convicted of raping a woman in Central Park. The Central Park Five each received $1 million for every year behind bars, the highest rate the city had ever paid.
In March, Richard Rosario filed a motion to vacate his murder conviction. The appeal was based on "actual innocence," which essentially means that Rosario sought to prove that new evidence showed that he was innocent beyond a reasonable doubt. Rosario, whose case we detailed in a feature story earlier this month, has claimed that he was in Florida on the day 17-year-old Jorge Collazo was shot and killed in the Bronx in 1996. His motion included testimonies from seven people and newly discovered police documents that supported his alibi.
Courtesy Rosario Family Richard Rosario and his daughter Amanda.
A Bronx Supreme Court judge gave the Bronx District Attorney's Office 90 days to investigate Rosario's claims and determine whether it would defend the conviction. Those 90 days came to an end last week. And at a hearing on Thursday, the D.A.'s office declared that it opposed Rosario's motion and would fight his appeal.More »
For about a decade Michael Bloomberg's administration fought the Central Park Five wrongful imprisonment lawsuits. When Bill de Blasio campaigned to replace Bloomberg as mayor, he vowed to end the fight and reach a "swift settlement" with the men. Then he took office and months went by and there was no settlement.
But then, last week, near the end of de Blasio's sixth month in office, the New York Times broke the news: the five and the city reached a $40 million settlement.
On Thursday, the city's offer became official. City Comptroller Scott Stringer approved the agreement, and the proposal can now go before a judge for a final ruling.More »
On Thursday, the men wrongfully convicted of the 1989 rape and assault of a jogger in Central Park agreed to a $40 million settlement with the city. The amount corresponds to the roughly 40 total years the men, known Collectively as the "Central Park Five," spent in prison after their conviction. Based on this calculation, Karey Wise, who spent 13 years in prison, the most among the five, will receive the most money the city has ever paid for a wrongful conviction.
The crime was high profile, and so were the trial, the eventual exonerations, and the long battle for a monetary settlement.
When the men were arrested, the city's (and the country's) primary criminal justice concern was public safety. It was the tough-on-crime era. As they reached their settlement, the criminal justice headlines are focused on wrongful convictions. It is an era of reconciliation and of learned lessons.
And now the city is trying to figure out how to apply those lessons.More »
The Brooklyn District Attorney's review of 90 questionable convictions, the tarnished reputation of former detective Louis Scarcella, the seven exonerations in Brooklyn in 2014, the renewed focus on police and prosecutiorial misconduct during New York City's crack era--it all started with David Ranta.
The police line-up in which David Ranta was falsely identified as a murderer.
This week's feature story, about the daughter of a prisoner convicted of murder, details the legal case of Richard Rosario. Rosario has claimed that he was in Florida on the day Jorge Collazo was murdered in June 1996.
mikecogh via Compfight cc
He gave his public defender, Joyce Hartsfield, a list of 13 people who could back up his alibi. Hartsfield requested funding to send an investigator to Florida to interview the potential witnesses. The judge, Hartsfield believed, denied the request. As a result, only two witnesses appeared at trial to testify that Rosario had been in Florida. The prosecutor match those alibi witnesses with two eye witnesses, and argued that the alibi witnesses were lying to protect Rosario. The jury agreed.
The judge, however, had actually approved Hartsfield's request. Hartsfield's unfortunate error formed the basis of Rosario's 2004 appeal, citing "inadequate defense representation."More »
Richard Rosario has trouble sleeping the night before his family visits. He usually wakes up at 5 or 6 a.m. Then he sobs. He pictures the end of the visit. He think about the months he'll have to go without seeing them. The closer it gets to their visit, the closer it gets to their departure. He cries until he is ready to get out of bed at around 8.
Courtesy Rosario Family