News & Resources

Law profs prevail over backlash to publishing prosecutor misconduct cases

Law profs prevail over backlash to publishing prosecutor misconduct cases

Hassan Kanu
Reuters

(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…

Professors’ free speech rights violated in case against Queens DA

Jacob Kaye
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…

Professors’ free speech rights violated in case against Queens DA
Wednesday Watch On Injustice Newsletter

Law Professors Rally to the Defense of Transparency with Prosecutorial Misconduct

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.

See the letter here.

How Can You Destroy a Person’s Life and Only Get a Slap on the Wrist?

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…”

They Publicized Prosecutors’ Misconduct. The Blowback Was Swift.

Jonah Bromwich
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…”

Law professors sue city, DA Katz

Jacob Kaye
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…”

‘Scourge’ Of Misconduct Allegations Plague Queens DA’s Office

Kathleen Culliton
Patch

“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.

An Effort to Hold Prosecutors Accountable

Nina Starling
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)

An Effort to Hold Prosecutors Accountable
Former NYC school custodian in $6.25 million settlement with city over wrongful Queens conviction

Former NYC school custodian in $6.25 million settlement with city over wrongful Queens conviction

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…”

Prosecutors Wrongfully Convicted Three Men Who Spent 24 Years Behind Bars. Will They Be Disbarred?

George Joseph
Gothamist

“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…”

Everyday Injustice Podcast Episode 112: Prosecutor Accountability in New York

“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…’”

Everyday Injustice Podcast Episode 112: Prosecutor Accountability in New York

Want to Learn More? Check Out These Additional Resources.

Organizations

Families and Friends of the Wrongfully Convicted
https://wrongfullyconvicted.info/

VOCAL New York
https://vocal-ny.org

Innocence Project NY
https://innocenceproject.org/policy/new-york/

National Registry of Exonerations
https://www.law.umich.edu/special/exoneration/Pages/about.aspx

Open File @openfilesite
https://www.prosecutorialaccountability.com

Films

Central Park Five (Watch on Netflix or iTunes or Shop PBS)

See Innocence Project’s List “Must-See Wrongful Conviction Films and TV Shows”

Articles

Who Polices Prosecutors Who Abuse Their Authority? Usually Nobody, ProPublica

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

Prosecutorial Misconduct Commission Will Only Be as Strong as Underlying Disciplinary Rules—And That’s a Problem, Law.Com

An Odd, Almost Senseless Series of Events, Thomas L. Dybdahl, Marshall Project

Prosecutorial Accountability, Death Penalty Information Center

Reports

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)

Ethics Guides / Rules

American Bar Association, Standards for the Prosecution Function

American Bar Association, Model Rules of Professional Conduct

New York Rules 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.