ECBA has filed a “friend of the court” brief in the federal appeals court in Manhattan urging the full court to reconsider a recent decision that affects how much time victims of police misconduct have to file civil rights claims in court. The amici curiae brief was filed on behalf of a coalition of organizations that defend indigent people accused of crimes, work to correct wrongful convictions, and protect civil rights. It argues that when someone alleges that police fabricated evidence used to charge him with a crime, the statute of limitations on his civil claim should not start running until the criminal case against him is resolved in his favor. As the brief explains, the recent decision, if not corrected by the full court, could hurt criminal defendants’ ability to defend themselves against charges and lead to the dismissal of valid civil rights claims for technical reasons, even if the plaintiff is the victim of egregious misconduct or has served years in prison for a crime he did not commit.
The groups represented by ECBA in the case are the American Civil Liberties Union, Bronx Defenders, Brooklyn Defender Services, Center for Appellate Litigation, Connecticut Innocence Project, The Innocence Project, The Legal Aid Society, National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, Neighborhood Defender Service of Harlem, New York County Defender Services, New York State Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, Office of the Appellate Defender, and Vermont Office of the Defender General. ECBA attorneys Sam Shapiro, David Lebowitz, Doug Lieb and Ashok Chandran worked on the brief.