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Friday, October 04, 2013

New York Times: Monstrous White Detective Got Me to Help Railroad Innocent Black Man, Says Jailed Murderer (The Guilt Project)

By Nicholas Stix

Remember: Black murderers never lie, when they claim that they helped railroad other blacks years ago! That’s the rule at the New York Times.

In the past, the media had to invent characters like this out of whole cloth.

In The Hurricane, Norman Jewison’s 1999 propaganda movie about racist mass murderer Ruben “Hurricane” Carter, screenwriters Armyan Bernstein and Dan Gordon created a racist white detective, who was obsessed with destroying the young Carter’s life. The problem was no such detective existed.

Now, the Times at least has a real name to hang its hat on: Det. Louis Scarcella. Whether its charges are real, is another story. I can’t say they are all false. Maybe some of the spaghetti that Times “reporter” Frances Robles is throwing at the kitchen wall will stick. I will say, however, that where race and the criminal justice system are concerned, the Times has all the credibility of your typical, jailhouse snitch. And we’re supposed to believe that in 1995, Scarcella was singlehandedly beating black men into confessing to murders they hadn’t committed.

Frances Robles’ main charge is that Scarcella got murderer Sharron Ivory to make a false witness report, so as to railroad innocent Sundhe Moses for the murder of Ivory’s four-year-old cousin, Shamone Johnson. Note that Ivory did not testify at trial, and Brooklyn juries are very friendly towards black thugs.

And that’s the best Robles’ got!

Actually, Brooklyn DA Joe Hynes’ entire prosecutorial career is based on railroading white defendants as special prosecutor in the Howard Beach Hoax, but the Times isn’t interested in telling that story.

Based on the comment threads, New York Times readers are among the most ill-informed and dishonest you’ll find. Then again, the paper’s thread Nazis rig the discussions, by variously blocking readers and sending other comments down the memory hole, so we’ll never know what an honest thread would look like. In any event, I did find a handful of decent comments that the Nazis passed on through. My more masochistic readers are welcome to read the rest after the article below.
 

o PRESIDENT MERV
o New York City
This article has provoked the most vitriolic attacks on our police and criminal justice system. Fact-there are corrupt cops. Fact-innocent defendants are sometimes convicted after trial or plead guilty to crimes they did not commit. But the exceptions do not make the rule. Brooklyn juries are well known to be skeptical of police witnesses and have been known to find very guilty defendants not guilty after trial. Here are some other facts-many convicted defendants who are really guilty claim they are innocent; witness recantations many years after the fact are often unreliable and motivated by fear or reward; and stories like those in this article provoke greater distrust of our criminal justice system.
 

o Oct. 4, 2013 at 8:18 a.m.
o Recommended1
5.
 Toussaint
 NY
It's not the article that has provoked vitriol, it is the revelations within it. Many people already feel that our criminal justice system is corrupt, so articles like this only reinforce that notion.

It is no justification to say that some defendants are actually guilty. Criminals are supposed to act like criminals, not the police.
 

 Oct. 4, 2013 at 2:22 p.m.
2.
o Fernando Bermudez
o Connecticut
These cases present dilemmas of justice: who to believe when a witness changes their story???? It's key, therefore, to get added evidence to further support innocence, and when it's only recantations involved the case must be tested in an evidentiary hearing with aims mitigate the charges absent physical or forensic evidence linking the defendant.
o Oct. 4, 2013 at 8:18 a.m.
 

o Katz
o Tennessee
Bearing false witness is part of the 10 Commandments. Police and prosecutors who pressure, encourage or induce people to do this to close a case should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law (which probably isn't harsh enough to discourage such behavior), lose their job and lose their pension--and the law should also provide generous compensation to those convicted because of this sort of command performance. Maybe if enough negative consequences were attached to this sort of behavior, it would be less of a problem.

In addition, tactics like plea bargains that reward criminals who testify against someone else with shorter sentences ought to be against the law. Prosecutors say they need to be able to offer plea bargains, but the conflict of interest here is so clear that no judge should accept testimony resulting from plea bargains.
o Oct. 3, 2013 at 12:23 p.m.
o Recommended6
o
 
o
o
o Charles
o New
Let me see if I have this straight: the recanting witness didn't ID the defendant at trial, but the fact that he recanted - while sitting in a prison cell on a separate murder charge - casts doubt on the conviction?

Give me a break. There are better ways to get promoted from the Metro desk, Ms. Robles.



 
Brooklyn Inquiry Finds Witness Who Says Police Coached Him to Lie

Chester Higgins Jr./The New York Times
Leaving services in 1995 for Shamone Johnson, age 4, who was killed by a stray bullet in a cross-fire in Brooklyn.
By Frances Robles
October 2, 2013
New York Times
44 Comments

A sweeping investigation into cases handled years ago by a retired Brooklyn homicide detective has turned up a witness to a 1995 murder who says the police coached him into giving false testimony.


Shamone in 1995.
Enlarge This Image

New York Corrections Department
Sundhe Moses was sentenced in Shamone's death. He said he signed a confession only after physical abuse by Louis Scarcella.

Suzanne DeChillo/The New York Times
Louis Scarcella

Suzanne DeChillo/The New York Times
James Jenkins says he was framed by Mr. Scarcella in a 1986 killing.

Ozier Muhammad/The New York Times
Charles Marcus said Mr. Jenkins was not the gunman.
 
The witness, Sharron Ivory, gave crucial evidence in one of roughly 40 trial convictions handled by the detective, Louis Scarcella, that are now being reviewed by the Brooklyn district attorney’s office. The review was prompted by revelations [read: assertions] that Mr. Scarcella sometimes engaged in questionable tactics, and may have helped frame an innocent man in another case.
Mr. Ivory was interviewed in recent weeks, first by a pair of detectives and then by an assistant district attorney, he said in a telephone interview. He told them he was lying nearly 20 years ago when he said he could identify the man who shot his cousin, a little girl who was struck by a stray bullet in a case that caused considerable public outrage.
Mr. Ivory’s account is just one facet of the broad investigation into Mr. Scarcella’s cases that was announced nearly five months ago by the Brooklyn district attorney, Charles J. Hynes. Going back decades, and covering years’ worth of convictions, it is a highly unusual re-examining of the work of a detective who, at the time, was among the most productive in New York City. And while Mr. Ivory says he was interviewed, lawyers for other defendants, as well as some of those convicted, said the review appeared to be moving in fits and starts.
“Progress has been very slow,” said Pierre Sussman, a civil rights lawyer [?!] who represents four people whose cases were investigated by the detective. “In the meantime, I have live human beings in maximum-security facilities for crimes they did not commit.”
Lawyers are hopeful that the challenges of time, fading memories and the deaths of many witnesses can be overcome in the wake of Mr. Hynes’s surprise loss in the Democratic primary election last month. (Mr. Hynes had said he would not run in the general election as a Republican, but reversed himself on Thursday.)
Many people involved in the cases were skeptical of Mr. Hynes’s review efforts, because most of the convictions took place under his watch, and they now believe that the man who beat him, Kenneth P. Thompson, may be more willing to exonerate people if they were convicted on flimsy evidence.
A spokesman for Mr. Thompson said he would not comment on the Scarcella investigation until he had taken office in January and read the case files.
The files will include the case in which Mr. Ivory testified: the 1995 death of his 4-year-old cousin, Shamone Johnson, who skated into a barrage of bullets that was meant for a local gang at the Prospect Plaza housing project in Brooklyn. The investigators who visited Mr. Ivory in the last few weeks wanted to know if he stood by information he gave when he identified a man accused of the shooting. At the time, Mr. Ivory said he recognized a photograph of the suspect.
Now Mr. Ivory, 40, says that was not true. “I didn’t recognize anyone,” Mr. Ivory told The New York Times in a telephone interview from Eastern Correctional Facility, a prison in Ulster County where he is serving time in an unrelated homicide. “The cops would say the number out loud and say, ‘Take a good look at it,’ so I went with it. I thought they knew what they were doing. And I figured if it wasn’t him, he could beat it at trial.”
Mr. Ivory said the prosecutor who visited him in prison several weeks ago casually mentioned that he could face perjury charges if he changed the story he had testified to be true.
Records show that it was not Mr. Scarcella who presented the photographs to Mr. Ivory. His role in the case involved obtaining the confession, which the defendant, Sundhe Moses, said he signed only because the detective had become physically abusive. When it came time to testify in court, Mr. Ivory ultimately did not identify Mr. Moses, but the jury, apparently persuaded by the confession, voted to convict.
Mr. Moses was sentenced to 16 years to life for Shamone’s death.
“I feel bad,” Mr. Ivory said. “I wouldn’t want somebody to be in jail for something they didn’t do.”
Mr. Hynes would not comment on the investigation, nor would he reveal which cases are being reviewed. But interviews with lawyers and witnesses involved in many of Mr. Scarcella’s cases, and who would presumably be central to any review, have provided a general portrait of the investigation’s current status. While some witnesses say they have indeed been contacted, far more say they have not been.
In the sit-downs that have occurred, not all changed their accounts, as Mr. Ivory said he had. Lawyers have said that, in several cases, they were told that witnesses did, indeed, stand behind their earlier testimony.
Several lawyers said the most important leads had been discovered by defense investigators, which raises questions about the depth of the investigation for inmates who are not represented by counsel.
Ronald L. Kuby, who represents five defendants whose cases are being reviewed, including Mr. Moses, has characterized the investigation under Mr. Hynes as a “black hole.” But he is also skeptical of Mr. Thompson’s campaign promises. Mr. Kuby predicted that the investigations would stall in the short term, because many prosecutors working the cases would be busy doing their résumés.
Other cases under review are in varying stages. One has been stalled for lack of the full handprints of a suspect who was never charged — even though the man is serving life in prison. In one case, a getaway driver has suggested the convicted man is innocent, but he will not talk until prosecutors offer him immunity.
In several instances, witnesses who claimed to have information to exonerate the innocent showed up for their interviews at the Brooklyn district attorney’s office, only to get critical facts about the crime wrong.
Many of the eyewitnesses Mr. Scarcella relied on are now themselves incarcerated, and some are hoping to trade their testimony for favorable treatment in their own, unrelated legal cases. (Mr. Ivory said he made no such request.) At the same time, the fact that they are incarcerated makes them easy to find, raising further questions about the speed of the inquiry.
In one case, the 1985 robbery and murder of a man named Ronnie Durant, prosecutors interviewed the only living witness, the victim’s nephew. In an interview with The Times, the witness suggested that he would not help unless prosecutors addressed what he called a mistake made when he was sentenced as a career offender for burglary last year.
“Maybe I didn’t see what I saw,” the nephew said in a telephone interview from Clinton Correctional Facility. “Put it like this: It’s a possibility that they were falsely accused.”
He spoke on the condition that his name not be published because he feared reprisals in prison if he was revealed to have cooperated with the police.
The witness claimed to have seen two brothers, Darryl Austin and Alvena Jennette, commit the murder. But court records show that the witness was considered so unreliable that the first prosecutor on the case decided not to file charges against the brothers. They were not arrested until two years after the killing, when Mr. Scarcella produced a crack-addicted longtime informer named Teresa Gomez, who matched the nephew’s testimony.
In the interview with The Times, the incarcerated witness said Ms. Gomez lied on the stand about seeing the murder, but he was more circumspect about his own testimony.
“Because Teresa is dead, I’m the key-holder to that situation,” the nephew said. “I’m holding on to my key.”
Mr. Austin died in prison at age 37, and his brother was released on parole after serving 21 years.
The district attorney’s investigation into Mr. Scarcella’s cases was prompted by reporting in The Times that showed that Ms. Gomez had testified as an eyewitness in several other cases the detective investigated. She was also a lead witness in two murder trials against Mr. Jennette’s half-brother, Robert Hill. Mr. Hill is still in prison for one of those killings, which took place in 1987. Three witnesses in that case who claim they have information that would exonerate Mr. Hill said they had not been contacted by investigators.
Mr. Scarcella’s lawyer, Alan Abramson, declined to comment for this article. In earlier interviews, Mr. Scarcella said that he had never rigged any cases and that he was one of the finest detectives in the city.
The review of Mr. Scarcella’s work came two months after one of Mr. Sussman’s clients, David Ranta, was exonerated after serving 23 years in prison for a murder prosecutors now say he most likely did not commit. A yearlong investigation into Mr. Ranta’s case by the district attorney’s Conviction Integrity Unit showed myriad problems, most of them surrounding sloppy and dishonest work by Mr. Scarcella, the lead detective.
In another Scarcella case, no one from the district attorney’s office has approached Charles Marcus, 40. In 1994, Mr. Marcus, known as Danny, gave the defendant, James Jenkins, a signed affidavit saying that in 1986 he saw an armed man he knew — who went by the name Dezo — chasing another man who was murdered moments later. Mr. Jenkins, who remains in prison, goes by the nickname Wag.
Mr. Marcus said he did not expect to hear from the district attorney’s office, because he was convinced that prosecutors had given the star witness in the case a secret deal in exchange for his cooperation against Mr. Jenkins.
Mr. Marcus may have a hard time convincing investigators of his account, because he is offering to testify on behalf of someone he served time with in prison, and prosecutors are often distrustful of such testimony. Jailhouse affidavits are so ubiquitous in murder conviction appeals that they conjure the imagery of prison yard dice games, where official declarations are swapped for cigarettes.
“I don’t think they’re going to let him out,” Mr. Marcus said about Mr. Jenkins.
A version of this article appears in print on October 3, 2013, on page A1 of the New York edition with the headline: Murder Witness Says Police Coached Lie in 1995.
52 Comments
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3.
o John Zotto
o Cape Canaveral, Florida
Being told which suspects to identify in a photo line up is a big "no no", but I do find it amusing that the one thug claimed he confessed because Scarcella became physical. The problem with our criminal justice system is the poor cannot afford good attorneys. Whether these guys are guilty or not, having representation at their original trials would have surfaced any improprieties on the part of the police.
o Oct. 3, 2013 at 8:08 a.m.
o Recommended9
5.
 DD
 NY
"Whether these guys are guilty or not, having representation at their original trials would have surfaced any improprieties on the part of the police"

Mr. Zotto: You are remarkably naive about the criminal justice system.
 Oct. 3, 2013 at 9:44 a.m.
 Recommended13
4.
o Marty
o Singer Island, FL
Wow! A lying, abusive cop. Unbelievable! Who woulda thunk it? Whatever happened to Frank Serpico?
o Oct. 3, 2013 at 8:35 a.m.
o Recommended25
5.
o James Runnels
o Leesburg, Fl
In my experience as a 25-year reporter specializing in criminal justice issues, prosecutors are almost always found to be the enablers to law enforcement fabrication of evidential testimony and suborning perjury.

The prosecutors are judged on convictions alone and it is a given that they are going to help cover for lying cops in order to enhance their prestige and their paychecks.
o Oct. 3, 2013 at 8:35 a.m.
o Recommended40
4.
 Roger
 NYC
In my 25 years as an Assistant DA and Criminal Defense Attorney I never met a reporter who CARED to get the whole story correct not just several lines or blurbs on TV. My job was to seek and "do justice". We are not perfect but some of use took our jobs very seriously. We could care less about what you are implying James Runnels.
 Oct. 3, 2013 at 12:30 p.m.
 Recommended1
6.
o craig geary
o redlands fl
Nothing will change until the railroaders, the cops and prosecutors putting innocents in prison, have to serve equal time and turn their assets over to the railroadees, their victims.
o Oct. 3, 2013 at 8:57 a.m.
o Recommended38
7.
o Danny V
o Boston
We need to stop giving deals to criminals to testify. The detective maybe did some of the things mentioned but after all these years the witnesses, from prison, want deals to recant testimony. Never trust a criminal. Look at the Whitey Bulger mess.
o Oct. 3, 2013 at 8:57 a.m.
o Recommended7
4.
 MarkF
 CT
John Connelly included!
 Oct. 3, 2013 at 12:19 p.m.
 Recommended1
8.
o david
o ny
o Verified
Treason is the only crime defined in the Constitution.
To convict for treason requires either a confession in OPEN court or the testimony of two witnesses to the same act..
This same standard should be applied for all criminal trials.
Confessions made outside of court should not be admitted. The defendant should be asked by the trial judge at trial if the defendant wants to confess. Only then should the confession be admitted.
Witnesses can make mistakes.
With at least two witnesses the possibility of a wrongful conviction is diminished.
Some will complain this would make it too hard to convict someone.
Too bad.
There have been too many wrongful convictions because of coerced confessions or unreliable jailhouse snitches.
If the standard is appropriate for treason then it is appropriate for other criminal cases.
o Oct. 3, 2013 at 9:02 a.m.
o Recommended13
9.
o Margaretleo
o NY
Prosecutors are the worst criminals in the country.
o Oct. 3, 2013 at 9:44 a.m.
o Recommended14
10.
o Socrates
o Downtown Verona NJ
Eliminate prosecutorial 'immunity'

'Immunity' gives prosecutors the temptation to lie, hide evidence, and inflate their deranged egos by increasing their conviction 'batting averages'.

They also share these tools of injustice for their 'star' police witnesses.

The bad police apple doesn't fall far from the prosecutor's tree.

An American disgrace story.
o Oct. 3, 2013 at 9:44 a.m.
o Recommended49
11.
o Dora
o Brooklyn, New York
Reading about our criminal justice system has been an eye-opener. We learn justice is more a matter of luck and perhaps money than making a real effort to discover the truth. Perhaps our vaunted legal system isn't so great after all. Perhaps serious changes should be made. If the innocent can be thrown in jail for life on someone's word and little else - often nothing else - how are we different from any undemocratic country past or present?
o Oct. 3, 2013 at 9:44 a.m.
o Recommended28
4.
 Carlos Puleston
 Los Altos, CA
How are we different, you ask... Well, we are Exceltional--- remember?
 Oct. 3, 2013 at 12:29 p.m.
 Recommended1
5.
 Carlos Puleston
 Los Altos, CA
Exceptional... iPad keyboard!!
 Oct. 3, 2013 at 12:29 p.m.
 Recommended2
6.
 sarai
 ny, ny
We already resemble an undemocratic third world country. Corruption abounds at every level, whether it's the courts, law enforcement. Congress, Wall Street and so on. Only the rich are safe as money can buy anything and anyone. If you're poor and sick, you're better off in Cuba.
 Oct. 3, 2013 at 5:01 p.m.
 Recommended1
12.
o Mark W
o watchung
For all of you, "Let's get tough on criminals!" folk out there who might not mind some of these tactics, may I remind you that when the wrong guy is convicted, the case is closed and the bad guy is still out there.
o Oct. 3, 2013 at 9:44 a.m.
o Recommended34
4.
 The Conspirator
 Unknown
I couldn't agree more, and the people of this country still wonder why our death rate is at its highest.
 Oct. 3, 2013 at 12:19 p.m.
 Recommended8
5.
 sarai
 ny, ny
A very important point. It is the general public who is at risk when the wrong person is prosecuted and jailed. Maybe if people realized that and made themselves heard, the system would correct itself.
 Oct. 3, 2013 at 4:56 p.m.
 Recommended2
13.
o JR
o NYC
Between jurors expectations from watching too much Law and Order, police and prosecutorial misconduct and apparent immunity/lack of accountability, understaffed/overworked public defenders and the apathetic judges who preside, its a wonder anyone receives a fair trial. Woe betide he or she who is wrongfully accused of a crime in NYC.
o Oct. 3, 2013 at 9:45 a.m.
o Recommended9
14.
o Diana Moses
o Arlington, MA
o Verified
We all can change our attitude of assuming prosecutors and law enforcement are not flawed human beings like the rest of us and stop giving them a blank check of our trust. A widespread cultural change in presumptions might make it more difficult for them to unjustly charge and prosecute innocent people. This would be in addition to investigations and other tools to root out particular instances of framing innocent people.

In Massachusetts, we have a [affirmative action] drug lab worker who apparently lied about test results on evidence seized and we have reports about lying witnesses for the prosecution, I think it was in Lowell. I personally know of criminal cases that were shams and fell apart in court because they were. We need to stop being enabling bystanders.
o Oct. 3, 2013 at 11:13 a.m.
o Recommended4
15.
o Bill Randle
o The Big A
If NYPD could employ two "decorated" detectives (Louis Eppolito and Stephen Caracappa) who moonlighted as murdering hitmen for the Mafia, this kind of corruption shouldn't be a surprise to anyone.

Raymond Kelly deserves to be fired the moment de Blasio takes over. Actually, he deserves to be prosecuted for gross incompetence and institutional corruption, but of course we all know that never happens to someone in law enforcement.
o Oct. 3, 2013 at 12:14 p.m.
o Recommended11
16.
o rf
o lancaster
Add to this the federal method of using "rat chains" where the top people are given a way out by ratting on their subordinates who are given the same choice...on down the line till the last one in the chain..the least culpable...is given the most time...
o Oct. 3, 2013 at 12:14 p.m.
o Recommended3
17.
o sean
o hellier
The issues swirling around the Brooklyn District Attorney's office are the clearest possible arguments for term limits.

The sloppy prosecutions and perhaps even wrongful convictions are bad enough.

But Mr. Hyne's practice of handling sexual abuse cases in the Ultra Orthodox Jewish community are off the scale disgraceful.

If a person was sexually abused by an Ultra Orthodox Jew, Mr. Hyne's policy was to keep the names of the perpetrators secret, and regularly allow the criminal to plead to lessor charges that did not include incarceration.

Mr. Hynes also allowed Ultra Orthodox rabbis to be the determining factor in deciding if a claim of sexual abuse even had merit.

After the New York Times reported on this on May 10, 2012, Mr. Hynes explained that his office was trying to be sensitive to a very insular group inclined to distrust non-Jewish authorities.

That may be the reason Mr. Hynes treated crimes in one community differently than he did in all of the other many ethnic communities in his jurisdiction.

Or did the fact that that Ultra Orthodox rabbis regularly deliver a large block of reliable voters have anything to do with the fact that Mr. Hynes treated the Ultra Orthodox Jews differently than he did anyone else in Brooklyn?

It was Mr. Hynes' pampering of Ultra Orthodox criminals that angered so many of us in Brooklyn that we voted him out of office.
o Oct. 3, 2013 at 12:19 p.m.
o Recommended9
18.
o EJS
o Granite City, Illinois
This is one big reason why I oppose the death penalty. I think the police and prosecutors routinely coach witnesses, not overtly to lie, but to be a lot more definite in their testimony than they really can be. The original statement that, "I can't tell for sure, it kind of looks like him," becomes in court, "That's the guy." This has to result in the conviction of people for crimes they didn't commit and it certainly reduces the number of "not guilty" verdicts based on reasonable doubt.
o Oct. 3, 2013 at 12:19 p.m.
o Recommended11
19.
o Katz
o Tennessee
Bearing false witness is part of the 10 Commandments. Police and prosecutors who pressure, encourage or induce people to do this to close a case should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law (which probably isn't harsh enough to discourage such behavior), lose their job and lose their pension--and the law should also provide generous compensation to those convicted because of this sort of command performance. Maybe if enough negative consequences were attached to this sort of behavior, it would be less of a problem.

In addition, tactics like plea bargains that reward criminals who testify against someone else with shorter sentences ought to be against the law. Prosecutors say they need to be able to offer plea bargains, but the conflict of interest here is so clear that no judge should accept testimony resulting from plea bargains.
o Oct. 3, 2013 at 12:23 p.m.
o Recommended6
4.
 Charles W.
 NJ
"Police and prosecutors who pressure, encourage or induce people to do this to close a case should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law "

That should include an automatic death penalty for official misconduct.
 Oct. 3, 2013 at 3:14 p.m.
 Recommended2
20.
o PuffDavitt
o Glen Rock, NJ
New York might follow New Jersey's example (egads!) where county prosecutors are appointed by the Governor. A "popular vote" is probably not the best means of selecting a district attorney.
The United States is the only country in the world where voters elect prosecutors. But the American prosecutor did not start as an elected official. After the Revolutionary War, most states gave their governors, judges, or legislators the power to appoint prosecutors. Starting with Mississippi in 1832, however, states adopted new constitutions, statutes, or amendments that made prosecutors elected officials. By 1861, nearly three-quarters of the states in the Union elected their prosecutors.

Fairness and efficiency concerns were largely absent from the debates over whether to make prosecutors elected. Instead, supporters of elected prosecutors were responding to governors and legislators who used the appointment system for political patronage. As prosecutors gained discretionary power over criminal prosecutions, mid-nineteenth-century political reformers believed it was crucial to remove prosecutors from partisan politics. Many also hoped elected prosecutors would be more accountable to the voters and the local communities they served. Not long after prosecutors became elected, however, prosecutors quickly became involved in and co-opted by partisan politics.
o Oct. 3, 2013 at 12:23 p.m.
o Recommended9
21.
o workerbee
o Florida
o Verified
Former Detective Scarcella will probably escape prosecution for any wrongdoing because of something called "police discretion," which gives police officers a free hand to do just about anything they want, including planting weapons on suspects and lying about the circumstances of any incident. Another justification for any police actions is "probable cause," which, like "police discretion," gives the benefit of any doubt to the police officer(s) in situations where the facts are not otherwise known. "Probable cause" is based on a phrase in the U.S. Constitution.
o Oct. 3, 2013 at 3:13 p.m.
o Recommended6
22.
o Allen Roth
o New York, NY
I don't understand how the distinction is made between those who are 'represented by counsel' and those not.

Isn't the right to counsel guaranteed under the Constitution? "If you cannot afford one, the Court will appoint one for you."
o Oct. 3, 2013 at 3:14 p.m.
o Recommended1
4.
 joan
 Brooklyn, NY
You have a right to counsel at trial. Once you've been convicted and are serving time you're done. I don't think you have any right to counsel just because you say you were wrongfully convicted. If you can get an attorney or an organization like the Innocence Project to take your case you're lucky.
 Oct. 3, 2013 at 4:26 p.m.
 Recommended4
23.
o Hope
o Boston, MA
NYT Pick
As long as the performance of DAs and detectives is linked to the number of convictions they make possible, so long will innocent poor people continue to go to prison in large numbers, so long will tax-payers be saddled with huge prison maintenance budgets, so long will higher education funding shrink and prison budgets go up.

These law enforcement policies, together with the mandatory minimums legislated as part of the "war on drugs" are bankrupting our states and withering low-income city neighborhoods.
o Oct. 3, 2013 at 3:14 p.m.
o Recommended3
4.
 vicki scott
 MN
Hope, do "for profit prisons" enter into this picture?
 Oct. 3, 2013 at 5:01 p.m.
 Recommended1
24.
o Charles
o New
Let me see if I have this straight: the recanting witness didn't ID the defendant at trial, but the fact that he recanted - while sitting in a prison cell on a separate murder charge - casts doubt on the conviction?

Give me a break. There are better ways to get promoted from the Metro desk, Ms. Robles.
o Oct. 3, 2013 at 3:14 p.m.
o Recommended1
25.
o Ginger Sarmento
o San Diego
In the U.S., a country of 300 Million people, there are more people in prison than in any other country in the WORLD (of 7 Billion people)! Something is really wrong with this picture. It breaks my heart each time I learn of another wrongly accused victim released after 10, 20, even 50 years in prison. Unless there is absolute evidence, no-one should be incarcerated.

Americans pride themselves on being a just nation. As a newer nation, we have much to learn from the many countries who have evolved over thousands of years. Many of them have tried and given up Capitalism because it does not work. Eventually a tiny percent acquire everything from the middle class (Today, America's Top 1% owns more than the "combined" wealth of the bottom 99%!!!).

We need to adopt some of the techniques of "The World's Happiest Country," Denmark, where there is also very little crime. This is because everyone is treated as an equal and all of their basic needs are met --a key deterrent of crime. So, to the Selfish and Greedy Republicans, take a lesson from Denmark. You will be happier when you learn to share. There is more JOY in giving than in TAKING. There is also more Inner Peace in being honest than in lying, scheming, stealing, and all the other reasons for which many Republicans should be jailed...e.g. Shutting down the Government just to prevent the most needy from obtaining health care. This is GREED at it's finest!! To Mr. Boehner & The House: Reopen the Government!!!
o Oct. 3, 2013 at 3:15 p.m.
o Recommended6
26.
o Sarcasmia
o NY
Unfortunately, dishonesty is becoming a way of life for the NYPD rank and file. Very recently I was struck by a patrol car. The accident report they filed said the officer had his lights and sirens on - a complete fabrication. They made this claim to limit his liability.

I'm pursuing every available avenue for redress with various city agencies, but I don't expect results. Until society (and more importantly, the court system) learns that wearing the uniform is not synonymous with honesty, officers will feel free to operate dishonestly where it suits them.
o Oct. 3, 2013 at 3:15 p.m.
o Recommended5
4.
 Dr. Bob
 Miami Florida
Lights and sirens on but no computer chip to record this? No radio recording of the order to car, or advise to central they were going on?
 Oct. 3, 2013 at 4:17 p.m.
 Recommended5
5.
 Archduke Franz Ferdinand
 Austria-este
Given that civilian ECUs record every time the driver burps, I find it really hard to believe that the fact they weren't operating in emergency service isn't recorded somewhere.

Even if you just knew where the cop started, where he ended up, you could figure how fast the cop car was traveling... The radio logs would say whether him operating in emergency service had been authorized...
 Oct. 4, 2013 at 8:18 a.m.
27.
o hinckley
o southwest harbor, me
"Criminal justice" in NY is an oxymoron.....and a joke!

Many have known this for a LONG time. Others are finding out now as we learn about one of the dirtiest cops ever, Scarcella AND the secretly made recordings by ex-NYPD cop, Adrian Scholcraft.

Its ROTTEN TO THE CORE and the condescending leaders have the gall to be indignant toward all proof otherwise....and everybody just moves along as if that big @#$$ elephant was NOT in the room!

I say ANYbody that knew or should have known that their actions were sending the wrong person to PRISON ought themselves GO TO PRISON! And I mean from the very top to the very bottom. Period. The mere idea that these good ole' boy masters of the universe are picking and choosing life-ruinous conclusions for innocent (mostly minority) citizens is a shock to the conscience and an insult to the concept of justice.

The current "justice" system has absolutely no credibility and is an offense to everything America supposedly stands for. Shame!
o Oct. 3, 2013 at 3:15 p.m.
o Recommended4
28.
o Susie
o New York
I served on a crimminal case a few years ago (guy selling watches on street ran from police and they both fell down subway stairs and got hurt). I was SHOCKED by the police officers' behavior on the stand as well as the prosecutor. They were manipulating and lying. The over 6 foot 250 pound trained police officer had the nerve to imply that the 5'5 140 pound defendent "picked him up and threw him over his shoulder down the subway steps". He then said his hand injury was devastating because he couldn't handwrite letters to his sister (he is in his 20s - how many 20 year olds handwrite letters these days??).

As an American citizen, a tax payer, and (hopefully) an ethical person, it was and continues to be an incredibly disturbing experience.

Honestly, while I believe the defendent was selling watches and did run (and was thus lying on the stand himself when he said he wasn't), voting to put him behind bars based on the behavior of the DA and police would have been unethical and a travesty of justice.

One bright spot - virtually all of the other jurors felt the same way and we acquitted the guy on all counts. At least the regular citizens have a conscious!
o Oct. 3, 2013 at 3:15 p.m.
o Recommended10
4.
 Bryan Lewis
 New York City
I think this is another great argument for jury nullification--which happened in this case.
 Oct. 3, 2013 at 3:32 p.m.
 Recommended2
29.
o Ken
o Rupublican World
Big surprise here. This is business as usual. When I was arrested for dope in the 80s, the lead DEA agent was a possibly an addict himself. The informant was given 6 half-gram packets, but only 5 wound up in the paperwork. And there was another incident where the informant scored from me and there was poor documentation and no charge. I heard rumors that the informant and the agent were snortin up together. Later I got more details, but of course I was in no position to say anything when I was copping a plea, keeping out of prison. The color of the good guys vs bad guys was cloudy as heck. At least it's all over now and hopefully none of us are users today. I know I'm not.
o Oct. 3, 2013 at 4:00 p.m.
o Recommended7
30.
o joseph
o bklyn
" in the wake of Mr. Hynes’s surprise loss in the Democratic primary election last month. (Mr. Hynes has said he will not run in the general election as a Republican.) "

Time for an update, folks: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/10/04/nyregion/hynes-to-run-for-district-att...

your own article says he's gone back on his word and will run on the GOP line. If Hynes' failure to competently oversee the prosecutions done by his staff ( as in the Scarcella fraudulent convictions) and his woeful handling of the sex abuse cases in the orthodox community weren't enough strikes against him, now he's gone back on his word and proved himself a liar.
o Oct. 3, 2013 at 4:10 p.m.
o Recommended5
31.
o Deregulate_This
o Oregon
This is part of why it is dangerous to even visit places like LA or New York. They cite their arrest and conviction records to get re-elected. Like the Prosecutors in Georgia who falsified DNA evidence for thousands of convictions. People like this Detective destroy millions of lives and create undue hardships on their victims.

Question for New Yorkers: Were ANY of this detective's cases legitimate?
o Oct. 3, 2013 at 4:10 p.m.
o Recommended8
4.
 David H. Eisenberg
 Smithtown, NY
No one likely disagrees with your thoughts on the detective. Every innocent person should be let go and if there is enough suspicion of tainted evidence or testimony, I think due process requires it. But, I just can't agree with you that NY, where I live, is dangerous to visit because of this. NY is a very safe place to visit, period, amen. We pay a price for both our rights and our orderly society - we end up with guilty people going free sometimes because we have a need to enforce a fair process and we end up with innocent people going to jail too because they are unfortunately swept up in prosecution, even where there is no intentional abuse of prosecution. We continuously try to make it as fair as possible while maintaining order. It's a balance and it is never easy. I do believe many more guilty people go free than innocent people go to jail, but that is the trade off we make.
 Oct. 3, 2013 at 4:56 p.m.
 Recommended1
5.
 augias84
 New York
@David Eisenberg: in these cases, innocent people were apparently sent to jail intentionally. Witnesses were intimidated and bribed, intentionally. Now they're being threatened, intentionally, that they might be tried for perjury for retracting their false testimony.
 Oct. 4, 2013 at 8:17 a.m.
 Recommended1
32.
o Gorgon777
o tx
The problem for ALL Americans is that the US does not have the best justice system in the world - they never had.

The World Justice Project released its 2010 ‘Rule of Law Index’ ranking the top 11 developed countries based on its citizens’ access to civil justice. The US ranked the lowest.

The report also found that less than one in five low income Americans get the legal assistance they need.

“Wealthier people get good lawyers, private lawyers. They get out of whatever they were accused of and the same accusation against a low income person of color will lead them to jail for lengthy periods of time,” said Medea Benjamin, an activist and co-founder of CODEPINK.

The study also looked at other factors including absence of corruption, limited government power and fundamental rights. The US ranked below seventh out of the eleven developed countries in all categories except one.

Many say the results are not surprising. Within the justice system, it’s not just low income Americans who sometimes miss out on legal services. Many argue that race plays a role too.

“In the United States, we have this terrible problem when it comes to bigotry, American bigotry, racist bigotry, class bigotry, within a system of white capitalist supremacy where we still have a large part of the population celebrating the idea that white people are superior to black people,” said lawyer Thomas Ruffin Jr.

This is just another example of the mess we're in.
o Oct. 3, 2013 at 4:56 p.m.
o Recommended4
4.
 ctn29798
 Wentworth, WI
In the U.S., courts aren't looking for the truth of a case, they're looking for the best presentation. It's a little like an Olympic sport: style, form, intricacy are the point-getters. Entertain the jury. It's probably made up of people who grew up on Law and Order, so they know what a good presentation looks like. I think the musical, Chicago, and the lawyer's tap-dancing piece says it all.
 Oct. 4, 2013 at 12:37 p.m.
33.
o Archduke Franz Ferdinand
o Austria-este
Everyone already thinks that NYPD is completely corrupt and incompetent. Still, it is really unsettling when they are forced to admit it and confirm that what everyone thinks is true, is really true...
o Oct. 4, 2013 at 8:18 a.m.
o Recommended1
34.
o PRESIDENT MERV
o New York City
This article has provoked the most vitriolic attacks on our police and criminal justice system. Fact-there are corrupt cops. Fact-innocent defendants are sometimes convicted after trial or plead guilty to crimes they did not commit. But the exceptions do not make the rule. Brooklyn juries are well known to be skeptical of police witnesses and have been known to find very guilty defendants not guilty after trial. Here are some other facts-many convicted defendants who are really guilty claim they are innocent; witness recantations many years after the fact are often unreliable and motivated by fear or reward; and stories like those in this article provoke greater distrust of our criminal justice system.
o Oct. 4, 2013 at 8:18 a.m.
o Recommended1
4.
 Toussaint
 NY
It's not the article that has provoked vitriol, it is the revelations within it. Many people already feel that our criminal justice system is corrupt, so articles like this only reinforce that notion.

It is no justification to say that some defendants are actually guilty. Criminals are supposed to act like criminals, not the police.
 Oct. 4, 2013 at 2:22 p.m.
35.
o Fernando Bermudez
o Connecticut
These cases present dilemmas of justice: who to believe when a witness changes their story???? It's key, therefore, to get added evidence to further support innocence, and when it's only recantations involved the case must be tested in an evidentiary hearing with aims mitigate the charges absent physical or forensic evidence linking the defendant.
o Oct. 4, 2013 at 8:18 a.m.
36.
o Harry
o San Francisco
This makes me think of the kind of movie in which a police detective provides dope to a junkie in order to get whatever kind of testimony out of her that he cares to. But that's just the movies... But I will tell you one thing, when it comes to homeless individuals and drug addicts, they aren't known to be the most reliable sources; honesty seems to be an unpaid, idealistic service, whereas lying seems to provide plenty of people with a sense of power over others and circumstances.
o Oct. 4, 2013 at 8:18 a.m.
o Recommended1

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