We recently wrote about the challenge for newly-elected Brooklyn DA Ken Thompson in trying to address the mess that his predecessor, Joe Hynes, left behind when he was voted out of office last November. Following a number of high profile cases in which judges found that Hynes’ office had engaged in prosecutorial misconduct, the former DA set up a Conviction Integrity Unit. Since taking office, Thompson has decided that he needs to significantly expand the work of the unit to properly address what has become a legacy of wrongful convictions.
According to Sean Gardiner at The Wall Street Journal, Thompson has appointed three attorneys to act as independent advisers for his Conviction Review Unit, which will reexamine old cases to test the strength of the convictions:
The advisers are Bernard Nussbaum, who served on the congressional committee that conducted the Watergate impeachment hearings and later served as counsel to President Bill Clinton; Jennifer Rodgers, the executive director of Columbia Law School’s Center for Advancement of Public Integrity and a former federal appellate prosecutor; and Gary Villanueva, a defense attorney who previously served as a Brooklyn homicide prosecutor.
“Their combined experience and uncompromising integrity will prove invaluable in my office’s efforts to meticulously examine available evidence in order to right wrongs or confirm convictions,” Mr. Thompson said…
The unit consists of “experienced prosecutors, investigators and support staff tasked with the responsibility of conducting a thorough reinvestigation of cases identified as having a colorable claim of actual innocence or gross violations of a defendant’s constitutional rights,” said Mr. Thompson, who added that more details about the unit will be made available soon.
Mr. Nussbaum, Ms. Rodgers and Mr. Villanueva will advise on “a range of issues, including whether a conviction should stand, needs additional review or should possibility be overturned,” Mr. Thompson said.
Read the article in full here.