New York city will pay $10 million to settle wrongful conviction case

Revelations about the prosecution of Jabbar Collins, who served 15 years for a murder he did not commit, helped to bring down longtime Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes


New York City has agreed to pay $10 million to settle a wrongful conviction lawsuit filed by Jabbar Collins, who spent 15 years in prison for a murder he did not commit.

The settlement announced today concludes a decades-long struggle for Collins, now 42.

He was just 22 when he was sent to Green Haven Correctional Facility in upstate New York for the 1994 murder of Brooklyn landlord Abraham Pollack. In the years that followed, Collins turned his cell into a full-fledged jailhouse lawyer's office. He filed Freedom of Information Requests, re-interviewed witnesses, and taught himself to write and submit legal motions. Eventually, he gained the attention of a Manhattan defense attorney named Joel Rudin, who helped Collins win his freedom by persuading Federal Judge Dora Irizarry to vacate his conviction in 2010.

As ProPublica has reported, the effort by Rudin and Collins, in many ways, helped trigger the downfall of former Brooklyn District Attorney Charles "Joe" Hynes, whose top aide Michael Vecchione prosecuted Collins. In their lawsuit, Collins and Rudin accused Vecchione of violating several bedrock legal principles in order to win the conviction, saying he coerced witnesses, withheld exculpatory evidence, and suborned perjury. To bolster their claim, Collins and Rudin pointed to other instances of similar abuses by Brooklyn prosecutors, suggesting thatwhat Vecchione did was part of a larger, systemic pattern of misconduct that Hynes either overlooked or encouraged during his 23 years in office.

In an interview, Rudin said that the settlement marked a very gratifying moment for himself and Collins.

"I worked for four years to get him out of prison and another four years to get him some compensation and some sort of vindication," Rudin said.

Rudin also represented Collins in his lawsuit against the state of New York, which settled last month for $3 million. The total of $13 million Collins will receive is among the largest settlements New York has agreed to pay anyone wrongfully convicted in the state.

"I had three goals when I brought this lawsuit," Collins said in a press statement issued today. "One was to expose the illegal practices of District Attorney Hynes and to help drive him from office. The second was to obtain personal vindication and to demonstrate my innocence. The third was to receive compensation that would recognize the enormity of the harm that was done to me and my family and would provide financial security for the rest of my life. I accepted the City's offer because it meant that I had achieved all of my goals."

Collins' victory comes on the heels of several other settlements for high-profile wrongful convictions in New York. Earlier this year, David Ranta was awarded $6.4 million after spending 23 years in prison for a murder he always swore he did not commit. In June, five men wrongly convicted in the infamous Central Park jogger case were awarded $1 million each for every year they spent in prison.

A spokesperson for the New York Law Department issued a brief statement about Collins' settlement, pointing out that when Collins' conviction was first overturned in 2010, the Brooklyn District Attorney's office conceded that exculpatory evidence was withheld.
"We believe this settlement is fair and is in New York City's best interests," the statement said.

Last year, Hynes lost his bid for a seventh term as Brooklyn District Attorney after coming under heavy criticism for his handling of wrongful convictions. He is now being investigated by the New York Department of Investigation over allegations that he received advice from a top Brooklyn judge on several sensitive matters, including media coverage of Collins' case.

A spokesperson for Kenneth Thompson, who has since taken over the District Attorney's office declined to comment for this story.



What they don't teach you at Business School

Moneylife Foundation's seminar on safe and smart investing for young students of finance from the Management Course at the Atharva College, Malad


Moneylife Foundation held a seminar on safe and smart investing for finance students of Atharva College, Malad. While most of the attendees, who are students of business administration and finance, would be expected to have a good grounding in matters of finance, there is little in a college education that can prepare you for the intricacies and the realities of the financial services sector. While many students would go on to work for financial firms, all of them would need to have a good understanding of what it takes to invest safely and in a manner that would deliver prosperity in the long term.


Ms. Sucheta Dalal, Founder Trustee of Money Foundation, spoke on the financial traps to avoid, in order to keep your savings and capital safe. Debashis Basu spoke in the second half of the sesssion, with a focus on investments and how you could invest safely and yet build a corpus to enable a secure and comfortable future. As Mr. Basu put it, “having the benefit of hindsight, I can now tell you what you can do, which many middle-aged and older people wish they had been told in their twenties.”


Ms Dalal began with explaining to the students how to identify financial traps and scams, which could lead to upending your financial lives. “Everytime you speak to a salesman, make sure you don't fall for the sales pitch,” she said. She explained to the young audience that what salesmen of financial products say in their pitches can be far from the reality of the performance of the products. She spoke about the common mistake of falling for a well-known brand name and expecting good products, or performance, based solely on that.


She went on to detail the most ubiquitous scams, including Multi Level Marketing (MLM), Advance Fee Scams and Ponzi Schemes, among others. She also gave a brief account of safe financial behaviour over the internet, with a young and internet savvy audience, this was covered quite easily. “If scamsters are caught, the well-connected investors will be refunded and regular savers will rarely ever see their money.”


After a discussion on celebrity endorsements of bad financial products, Ms Dalal went on to explain the concepts of credit safety, credit scores and credit bureaus. This was of special significance, considering the profile of the audience, most of whom were in their twenties and as a result, most vulnerable to exuberant borrowing and credit expenditure.


In the second session of the seminar, Mr Basu's presentation was titled, “Salary Cannot Make You Rich, What Can?” With a short introduction to the young students, on the usual spending patterns, he went on to explain the need to have a clear understanding of your salary outgoings and possible savings.


He then spoke about goal-based investments and the relevant products that one could use to achieve those goals. Coming to the kernel of investment decisions he said, “Like all good Indians, we all want to know, 'kitna deti hai?'” He was, of course, referring to the average returns generated by the various asset classes available for investment. He went on to discuss the relationship between investment horizon and volatility, and then explained the immense power of compounding. The simple concept of compound interest, when applied to regular and relatively modest investments can deliver huge growth and future returns.


As if on cue, in his discussion of Real Estate as an investment, one of the students raised the question that he had forever heard and believed in the salience of real estate as a safe investment. Mr Basu stressed on the lack of reliable data, the numerous cases of builders cheating buyers and a comparison with the stock market. He then closed the exchange by saying that, “for every story you hear of a windfall gain on real estate investments, by your relatives or friends, there are many more cases where the investment has gone bad and which you don't hear about.”



Tabasar Ahmad Khan

2 years ago

I need your opinion to open school branch

5 key points from PM Modi's address in Haryana

PM Narendra Modi addressed poll-bound Haryana at the foundation laying ceremony of the Kaithal-Rajasthan Highway


Prime Minister Narendra Modi was in Kaithal, Haryana today, for the foundation ceremony of the border section of the Kaithal-Rajasthan National Highway.

The PM was accompanied by Union Minister Nitin Gadkari and Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Hooda at the foundation laying ceremony.

PM Modi's address comes at a time when Haryana's political atmosphere is charged up in anticipation of the upcoming Assembly Elections.

5 Key Takeaways:

• “'Mera Kya' and 'Mujhe Kya' have ruined us, we need a corruption free nation.”
The PM announced the launch of the “Prime Minister Gram Krishi Sichaee Yojana.”

• “Some Central schemes (for farmers) have been lying incomplete, I assure you that I will try and complete them.”

• “Corruption is dangerous and spreading more dangerously than cancer. It is destroying the country.”

• “Do you want a corruption-free country or not? Should strong steps not be taken to remove corruption? We will take those steps.”

Further controversy erupted after the ceremony, when the Haryana CM vowed never to attend another event with the Prime Minister.

When the CM stood up to speak at the function, the crowd booed him and shouted him down. Taking it as an insult by PM Modi's supporters, Hooda made said he would never attend another event with the PM. On the other hand, when the PM spoke to the audience, they heard him with full attention and in complete silence.




2 years ago

Hooda should be ashamed of this direct public feedback of his misgovernance. How dare he say he will not appear in public at PM's function?

he should resign & go if he thinks he cannot subordinate himself to the national government directions.

India cannot progress with such brazenly corrupt CM's, a legacy of the anti-national Congress era.

Devang shukla

2 years ago

Modi speaks a lot of things but we are looking forward for action. From recent speeah, it asks every person to take actions. If we need to do everything the why we elected you? For example - if paraens need to control son that is good idea but I don't heard any goverment action like strict rules,fast track courts etc...I hope he will do some action on his part also.

shadi katyal

2 years ago

It is good tgo hear that Modi talks of corruption but he is trying to wash his hands off it by asking the people to defer such practices . He has few Ministers who are not clean and yet he is quite. Why?
What action if any his Govt is willing to take on this issue. People donot pay but what choice they have when the whole system has deteriorated.
PM Modi ji, let us hear what action your govt is willing to take against such corrupt Babus



In Reply to shadi katyal 2 years ago

Your comment is quite biased. People are not poor victims of corruption always, many times they are equal partners and abet corruption, even getting honest officials punished for not kow-towing to their illegal demands.

It is not only for the govt to build a corruption free India. People flocking to the criminal & corrupt to get their illegal work done are equally to blame, and this shows the poor moral values of Indians, all the talk of glorious past notwithstanding.

shadi katyal

In Reply to Manoj 2 years ago

Kindly educate us that how anyone would join hands with corrupt officers and bribe them??Evidently you had no dealings with Govt officers and how they wish their hands to be greased.
I gave example of INTEL who refused to bribe and thus left India.
Only few days ago Drs were asking for SLR cameras and ipad in a sting of medicine suppliers.
The fact is that we have no moral values but shout being spiritualist.The fact is that we are a very corrupt nation and even the Laws can be broken,bent and if all fails can buy the Law.


In Reply to shadi katyal 2 years ago

Intel has an office in India. Two days ago in Business Standard there was an article on how Intel planned to reward its staff of Bangalore campus.

I guess it is easy to stay in US and claim what is wrong about India. And of course being ignorant as well. Yes there are certain things not well - but not all is as bad as you project.

Why be over critical and over pessimistic about everything Moneylife has to write?

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