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City Agrees to Pay $6 million to Settle Wrongful Conviction Suit

The City of New York has agreed to pay $6 million to Derrick Deacon, a man who spent over twenty years in prison for a murder he did not commit. Mr. Deacon was initially convicted in 1989 as the result of egregious misconduct by law enforcement and prosecutors. After new evidence came to light showing that Mr. Deacon was not the perpetrator, he was granted a retrial and acquitted in minutes. This suit, filed after his acquittal, challenged the official misconduct used to initially convict Mr. Deacon. The New York Daily News covered the settlement here.

ECBA attorneys Earl Ward, Andrew Wilson, Hayley Horowitz, and Jessica Clarke represented Mr. Deacon, together with Glen A. Garber, P.C.

Article

Earl Ward Speaks on Panel on Wrongful Convictions

ECBA partner Earl S. Ward appeared on a panel at Fordham Law School to discuss wrongful convictions. The panelists discussed the problems with eye witness testimony, Brady material, and prosecutorial discretion. Earl has successfully represented many people challenging their convictions. Most recently, he helped secure over $30 million from New York State and New York City for three men who were convicted of a murder they did not commit. Two of the men spent 18 years in prison; the third was incarcerated for over 12 years. Read more about the Firm’s wrongful conviction work here.

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ECBA Obtains Over $30 Million for Three Wrongfully Convicted Men in Infamous “Bronx Six” Case

New York City and State have agreed to pay $23.78 million to Michael Cosme and Carlos Perez, who were wrongfully convicted and incarcerated for 18 years for two 1995 murders in which neither man had any involvement. Mr. Cosme and Mr. Perez will each receive $8 million from New York City, in addition to $3.89 million previously paid by New York State, for a total of $11.89 million each in settlements.

Mr. Cosme and Mr. Perez were jointly indicted with five other individuals for the 1995 murders of a livery taxi driver and a FedEx employee, despite the absence of any physical evidence connecting them to the crimes. A 2012 investigation by federal authorities revealed that the taxi driver’s murder had actually been committed by two gang members whose names came up repeatedly during the NYPD’s 1995 investigation but who were never pursued as suspects. The revelation that the two gang members had previously confessed to committing the taxi driver murder—without any involvement by any of the six people convicted—led to the recantation of a central witness in the FedEx case, who claimed that her trial testimony had been coerced and manufactured by NYPD detectives. After using this new information to help free Mr. Cosme and Mr. Perez from prison in 2013, ECBA attorneys Earl S. Ward, Elizabeth S. Saylor, and David A. Lebowitz represented the men in civil litigation against the City and State along with co-counsel Julia Kuan of Romano & Kuan, PLLC.

ECBA and Romano & Kuan previously obtained $6.7 million in settlements from the City and State on behalf of the estate of Israel Vasquez, one of the other individuals wrongly accused of the same two 1995 murders, who spent over 12 years in prison before his conviction was overturned due to the insufficiency of the evidence against him. The team has thus recovered over $30 million for these three families in connection with this tragic case. The New York Times and the New York Daily News, among other publications, covered the settlements.

Article

New York City and State Agree to pay $6.7 million in settlements for Wrongful Conviction Cases

The City and State have agreed to pay $6.7 million to the widow of Israel Vasquez, who was wrongfully convicted and incarcerated for more than 12 years for a 1995 homicide. Mr. Vasquez was jointly indicted with five others for two separate homicides, that of a taxi driver and a Federal Express employee. ECBA attorneys Jonathan S. Abady, Earl S. Ward, Elizabeth S. Saylor, David Lebowitz and Orion Danjuma, together with co-counsel Julia Kuan of Romano & Kuan, PLLC represent Mr. Vasquez’s widow. ECBA, along with Julia Kuan, also represent Michael Cosme and Carlos Perez, two of the five other wrongfully convicted individuals who spent 18 years in prison for two murders they did not commit. Mr. Cosme and Mr. Perez’s cases are still pending. To read the New York Times coverage, click here.

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ECBA Files Lawsuits On Behalf of Two Wrongfully Convicted Men

Emery Celli Brinckerhoff & Abady, together with Romano & Kuan, PLLC filed lawsuits in the Southern District of New York today on behalf of Michael Cosme and Carlos Perez, who spent almost 18 years in prison for two murders they did not commit. The complaints allege that the two lead detectives manufactured the entire prosecution by coercing and bribing two “witnesses” to give false testimony and that the detectives suppressed evidence – including surveillance footage that undermined the testimony of a third “witness” and phone records that would have implicated the real murderers. Had the detectives followed up on basic leads instead of intentionally framing six innocent people (who collectively spent 100 years in jail), they would have caught the real murderers (who have since confessed) and prevented several heinous murders that those individuals instead remained free to commit. ECBA attorneys Earl Ward, Elizabeth S. Saylor, and David A. Lebowitz, along with Julia Kuan of Romano & Kuan, PLLC represent Mr. Cosme and Mr. Perez, as well as one of the other co-defendants whose case is already pending in federal court.

To read the New York Times’ article, click here. To read Mr. Perez’s complaint, click here and for Mr. Cosme’s complaint, click here.

Article

Three Individuals Are Exonerated After Spending 18 Years Imprisoned

Michael Cosme, Devon Ayers, and Carlos Perez were exonerated today after spending 18 years imprisoned following convictions in 1997. The convictions stemmed from two murders-of Baithe Diop, a Senegalese livery cab driver, and Denise Raymond, a Federal Express executive-that the government argued was perpetrated by Mr. Cosme, Mr. Ayers, and Mr. Perez. The convictions for the Diop homicide were vacated last December, after two former gang members confessed to the killing. Because Mr. Cosme, Mr. Ayers, and Mr. Perez were tried simultaneously for both the Raymond and the Diop homicides, on the theory that the murders were part of a single conspiracy, once the Diop homicide convictions were vacated, the government conceded in January of this year that spillover prejudice required vacatur of the Raymond homicide convictions as well. ECBA also argued that the Raymond homicide convictions should be vacated because Mr. Cosme, Mr. Ayers, and Mr. Perez are actually innocent because the government violated their constitutional rights by suppressing materially exculpatory evidence. While the three were released from jail in January, the indictments were not dismissed until today. Over the last nine months, the Bronx District Attorney’s Office re-investigated the cases and conducted DNA testing on the physical evidence. The District Attorney’s Office received the final results of that DNA testing today and agreed to dismiss the indictments. Mr. Cosme is represented by ECBA’s Earl S. Ward, Elizabeth S. Saylor, and Eisha Jain, along with co-counsel Julia Kuan of Romano & Kuan.

Article

Three Men Freed After 18 Years In Jail After Judge Vacates Convictions

Michael Cosme, Devon Ayers, and Carlos Perez were released today after spending 18 years imprisoned following convictions in 1997. The convictions stemmed from two murders-of Baithe Diop, a Senegalese livery cab driver, and Denise Raymond, a Federal Express executive-that the government argued were perpetrated by Mr. Cosme, Mr. Ayers, and Mr. Perez. The convictions for the Diop homicide were vacated last December, after two former gang members confessed to the killing. The convictions for the Raymond homicide were vacated today, upon the government’s consent. Because Mr. Cosme, Mr. Ayers, and Mr. Perez were tried simultaneously for both the Raymond and the Diop homicides, on the theory that the murders were part of a single conspiracy, once the Diop homicide convictions were vacated, the government conceded that spillover prejudice required vacatur of the Raymond homicide convictions as well. ECBA also argued that the Raymond homicide convictions should be vacated because Mr. Cosme, Mr. Ayers, and Mr. Perez are actually innocent and because the government violated their constitutional rights by suppressing materially exculpatory evidence. While the government has not yet conceded that Mr. Cosme, Mr. Ayers, and Mr. Perez are innocent, they were all released without bail. The government has 90 days to decide whether to retry them. Mr. Cosme is represented by ECBA’s Earl S. Ward, Elizabeth S. Saylor, Eisha Jain, and Julia Fong Sheketoff, along with co-counsel Julia Kuan of Romano & Kuan.

To read the New York Times article on the case, click  here. To see the NBC News story, click  here.

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