Ten current and former New York prosecutors who judges say illegally screened out potential jurors because of race or religion are facing ethics complaints that could prompt investigations or disciplinary actions.
A group of law professors filed ethics complaints Monday alleging prosecutorial misconduct, including allegations involving four current Queens prosecutors who had been slapped by the appellate courts for racial or religious discrimination practiced under former District Attorney Richard Brown.
All four have since received raises from new DA Melinda Katz, according to city payroll records reviewed by THE CITY.
NEW YORK CITY — A former Queens prosecutor faces an ethics complaint over a decades-old “cheat sheet” for jury selection that attorneys argued he used toward one of its stated goals: “Get white jurors.”
And the ethics complaint against Christopher McGrath is the only one filed this week that accused a current or former prosecutor of jury bias.
NEW YORK, NY – New York law professors and non-profit Civil Rights Corps this week filed 10 ethics complaints against former and current New York prosecutors, alleging they improperly attempted to remove prospective jurors.
In a news release by Civil Rights Corps, the group explained the prosecutors allegedly tried to remove “Black, Latino, Muslim, Jewish, and white woman potential jurors.
(Reuters) – A federal court ruling last week vindicated crucial First Amendment rights and upheld the use of one of the only effective means of holding prosecutors accountable for misconduct — public exposure.
A U.S. district court in Manhattan held on June 13 that a group of six law professors can freely call attention to misconduct and unaccountability in district attorneys’ offices by publishing online their disciplinary complaints against prosecutors…
Queens Daily Eagle
A group of New York law professors had their right to free speech violated last year when the city’s top attorney attempted to prevent them from publicly publishing a number of misconduct claims against nearly two dozen current and former Queens prosecutors, a judge ruled this week…
The It Could Happen To You coalition newsletter carries the exciting news that over 80 law professors have signed an open letter in response to the actions of Corporation Counsel and the Grievance Committee calling for transparency with the investigation of prosecutorial misconduct.
NY Times Editorial Board
“Prosecutors are among the most powerful players in the criminal justice system. They can send a defendant off to years in prison, or even to death row. Most wield this power honorably. Yet, when prosecutors don’t, they rarely pay a price, even for repeated and egregious misconduct that puts innocent people behind bars. Why? Because they are protected by layers of silence and secrecy that are written into local, state and federal policy, shielding them from any real accountability for wrongdoing…”
New York Times
“Grievances against 21 Queens prosecutors shared publicly online prompted a rebuke from the city, and has led to a lawsuit that raises questions about accountability in the justice system…”
Queens Daily Eagle
“A group of law professors looking to shed light on prosecutorial misconduct in Queens and throughout New York City have taken legal action against the city and the Queens District Attorney after it took issue with the professors publishing complaints against prosecutors online…”
“NEW YORK CITY — George Bell was 19 when cops handcuffed him to an interrogation room wall and beat him until he said he’d murdered an Elmhurst store owner and off-duty cop, reports and legal records show.
70 million podcast
Season 4, Episode 6
“A legal matrix that incentivizes criminal convictions can motivate unethical prosecutors to bend or break the rules. In New York, a group of law professors is trying to curb that by pushing the system to discipline its own…”
Episode Guide and Resources here: https://70millionpod.com/season-4 (Scroll down to episode #6)
By Graham Rayman
New York Daily News
“A former school custodian who spent 10 years in prison because Queens prosecutors allegedly withheld key evidence and manipulated witnesses has settled his lawsuit against the city for $6.25 million, the Daily News has learned…”
“In March, a Queens judge freed three men—George Bell, Gary Johnson, and Rohan Bolt—from prison after they served 24 years for the 1996 murders of a check-cashing store owner and an off-duty police officer in East Elmhurst. Judge Joseph Zayas found the trio had been wrongfully convicted because Queens prosecutors made false statements at trial and failed to turn over critical evidence pointing to alternative suspects in the high-profile case…”
“Prosecutorial misconduct continues to be widespread in the courts across the country. As a report from a decade ago discovered, with over 800 instances of documented prosecutorial misconduct—much of it serious with grave effects—courts, district attorneys, and bar associations ‘rarely hold prosecutors accountable for their misconduct. In fact, the whole system incentivizes misconduct by using ‘court wins’ to measure prosecutorial success…’”
Families and Friends of the Wrongfully Convicted
VOCAL New York
Innocence Project NY
National Registry of Exonerations
Open File @openfilesite
The Epidemic of Brady Violations: Explained, Jessica Brand, The Appeal
Prosecutorial Accountability 2.0, Bruce A. Green and Ellen Yaroshefsky, Notre Dame Law Review, Vol. 51
One Simple Way to Hold Bad Prosecutors Accountable, Jeff Adachi and Peter Calloway, The Appeal
An Odd, Almost Senseless Series of Events, Thomas L. Dybdahl, Marshall Project
Prosecutorial Accountability, Death Penalty Information Center
Government Misconduct and Convicting the Innocent, National Registry of Exonerations (2020)
Prosecutorial Oversight: A National Dialogue in the Wake of Connick v. Thompson, Innocence Project (2016)
An Epidemic of Prosecutor Misconduct, Center for Prosecutor Integrity (2013)
Preventable Error: A Report on Prosecutorial Misconduct in California 1997–2009, Northern California Innocence Project, Santa Clara University School of Law (2010)
American Bar Association, Standards for the Prosecution Function
American Bar Association, Model Rules of Professional Conduct
Visitor Note: At the time you access these resources, they may not be up-to-date or accurate. Some of the above resources, including organization websites and ethical rules, are modified on a fairly regular basis, and laws change. The views expressed in the above resources represent only that of the author(s) or organization(s) and are not necessarily shared by any Accountability NY coalition partners.