A Judge has ordered that Brooklyn District Attorney Charles J. Hynes must be available for deposition by the lawyer of a man who was in prison for 16 years because the prosecution convicted him – allegedly based upon threats made to coerce witnesses to lie at trial. A federal Judge agreed with the allegations enough to vacate the conviction but did not have jurisdiction to rule on the allegations of prosecutorial misconduct, which are being handled civilly. Jabbar Collins, who was sent to prison in 1995 for murder, initiated the wrongful conviction lawsuit against individual prosecutors in his case, as well as the Brooklyn DA’s office as a whole. Collins’ lawyer, Joel Rudin, says that he has found almost 60 other cases where The District Attorney’s Office committed prosecutorial misconduct.
Instead of being disciplined or punished, prosecutors who engaged in misconduct were allegedly rewarded and even promoted. Examples of this misconduct include not turning over exculpatory evidence to the defense, and in Collins’ case, forcing a witness to lie on the stand. Also in Collins’ case, prosecutor Michael Vecchione is accused of fabricating false testimony against Collins and denying him access to records that might have proved his innocence. Collins successfully petitioned to have his case reviewed in federal court, to clear not only his name but also the names of the dozens of other individuals who he and his lawyer allege are victims of misconduct in Brooklyn.
The city of Brooklyn and the Brooklyn DA’s office have been woefully unapologetic during this scandal. City lawyers argue that Collins is trying to “embarrass the District Attorney” and continue to insist that he is guilty. Hynes will be deposed in August and Vecchione will be deposed no later than June 24.