January 25, 2014

The Poventud Decision

It didn't get any press, and isn't sexy in the slightest, but this recent federal appellate ruling could be the most important civil rights decision of the past few years. The excerpt below was the intro to a far lengthier post that appeared on the Lumer & Neville website here
The United States Second Circuit Court of Appeals (the federal appellate court for the districts located in New York, Vermont, and Connecticut) recently issued an en banc decision in Marcos Poventud v. City of New York that reinforced a criminal defendant's right to substantive due process. The Court also confirmed that a person denied this right may (depending on circumstances) be able to sue for the injuries he or she suffers from the violation, even if later convicted. The case was not reported in the news and went unnoticed by all, except perhaps the local civil rights legal community. But make no mistake, this is an important civil rights decision.
As civil rights litigators continue to struggle for legal tools to help those who have been wrongly prosecuted, decisions that allow for due process claims, and other causes of action, that are aimed at the fabrication or withholding of evidence are critical. 

January 9, 2014

Suing For Wrongful Convictions in New York State

Martin Tankleff was arrested for the murder of his parents in the fall of 1988, just when he was to begin his senior year in high school, and was subsequently convicted in 1990. His conviction was overturned in 2007, but by then he had served 17 years in jail for a double murder he swore he did not commit. Tankleff has now settled one of his lawsuits for a little over $3 million. He has another lawsuit pending. The details of his fascinating (and infamous) criminal prosecution are for another post; our concern here is how he came to have multiple civil cases in different forums stemming from one wrongful conviction.