Late on October 18, a Thursday, veteran criminal defense lawyer Mark Bederow was frustrated. He had made a half-dozen formal requests over a period of months for more documents in the Brooklyn armed-robbery case of 64-year-old Ronald Bozeman, and it felt like he was banging his head against a wall.
As Bozeman languished in jail, Bederow had learned a series of disturbing things about the case that led him to believe it should have been dismissed months earlier. But the promised documents—known as “Brady material” after the relevant case law—had not arrived.
Shortly after 5 p.m., he sent an e-mail to prosecutor Sabeeha Madni, who works for Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes. “Please send the documents immediately,” he wrote.
Two hours later, Madni responded. “Relax,” she sniffed. “You'll get them. It’s not like any of that material exonerates your client anyway, so it’s not even technically Brady.”
Madni turned out to be wrong. And Ronald Bozeman would spend more than a year in jail for a crime he didn’t commit.
A number of cases like Bozeman's have lately cast Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes and his office in a less-than-flattering light. There have been repeated allegations of prosecutorial misconduct, political influence peddling, and basic ineptitude. Hynes has been widely criticized, for example, for shielding rapists and pedophiles in the ultra-Orthodox Jewish communities in Brooklyn as a way of currying favor with politically influential rabbis. And several high-profile criminal cases have fallen apart after revelations that his office has either manipulated evidence or withheld exculpatory evidence it is required to disclose to defense attorneys. In several cases, innocent men spent months or even years behind bars.
“It seems that the culture of that office has reached a point where its reputation has suffered tremendously,” says Bennett Gershman, a leading expert on prosecutorial misconduct who teaches law at Pace University. “People look at that office as a place that cares about winning and pleasing certain constituencies and really doesn't show a sense of doing justice. The other sense is that it’s a political office, and Hynes is a political prosecutor. He’s been there a long time. Maybe he’s been there too long.”
It’s certainly the case that Hynes has been in office for a political eternity: 23 years, through six terms, six police commissioners, and three mayors. He has held sway through the racially motivated slaying of Yusuf Hawkins in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn; through the Crown Heights riots and the conviction of Charles Price and Lemrick Nelson; the precinct-house assault of Abner Louima by officer Justin Volpe; and the corruption trials of judges Victor Barron and Gerald Garson. And those are just a few highlights from a long list.
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Posted by Rabbi Nuchem Rosenberg at 1/03/2013
?Will He Run Again For Office - Or Will He Runnn
Rabbi Nuchem Rosenberg