ProPublica journalist Joaquin Sapien published an article last week about the inquiry being conducted by the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office into cases handled by retired New York City police detective Louis Scarcella. We have been following cases out of the Brooklyn DA’s Office, including some involving Scarcella, which you can read about here. Sapien’s article examines whether the investigation by DA Charles Hynes’ Conviction Integrity Unit ought to extend to prosecutors who worked with Scarcella on cases at the DA’s office.
ProPublica reports:[DA Charles] Hynes has refused to say explicitly whether his inquiry will examine the work done by the prosecutors who worked alongside Scarcella, accepting his evidence, making use of the confessions he obtained, vouching for the witnesses he helped locate and interview.
The piece explores the views of “legal experts, defense lawyers for the men Scarcella helped incarcerate, and Hynes’s political rivals” who say that the investigation should include the prosecutors responsible for handling the cases that Scarcella worked on.
For instance, the Legal Aid Society’s chief attorney Steven Banks told Sapien:In our experience with cases of wrongful convictions, over many years and in all five boroughs, there are elements of misconduct by the police and elements of misconduct by prosecutors. That’s why we for years have been calling for independent oversight of all prosecutors.
The article finishes by pointing out the seemingly problematic scenario that the man overseeing the investigation in Scarcella is an assistant district attorney who “handled murder cases when Scarcella was at his busiest.”
Update 1.3.2014: The Brooklyn prosecutors conducting an internal review of Scarcella’s cases announced in November that they have not found any wrongdoing on the part of the detective. These are the first public comments on the matter from the Brooklyn DA’s office since it launched its investigation. According to the New York Times, the statements were contained in a motion to quash filed in the Brooklyn Supreme Court, which dealt with a subpoena ordering the DA’s office to turn over documents that could prove Scarcella had ever falsified evidence or lied under oath.