Why settlements don’t fix wrongful convictions

The wrongly convicted Jabbar Collins from Brooklyn will get his millions, but he won’t get his life back, and neither will his children or his family


It may seem to some a happy ending: A Brooklyn man wrongly convicted in a 1994 murder is at last cleared -- after serving 16 years in prison -- and then reaches a $10 million settlement with the city in the case.

Perhaps, says Senior Editor Joe Sexton, but it’s far from justice. “He will get his millions, but he won’t get his life back, and neither will his children or his family,” Sexton says, joining Managing Editor Robin Fields in the Storage Closet Studio to talk about the settlement.

While Collins’s family now has some measure of financial security, and the city has admitted wrongdoing, Sexton says, “there isn’t any real remedy that is committed to. The remedies that many people think are required really can only be brought about by legislation that would, you know, create a better, more effective way for making sure that prosecutors, in doing their vital jobs for society, don’t abuse their authority.”



Collins’s case, which was resolved more quickly than many wrongful convictions, illuminates so many of the problems that plague the system, Sexton says: He fought for years just to get the information to make his case, and many of the judges he appealed to seemed disinclined to even hear him out.

Indeed, Fields says, there have been many cases in the news recently dating back to the tenure of long time Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes’s tenure -- and in particular, one of his top prosecutors, Michael Vecchione. Vecchione, who handled Collins’s case, has been accused of a variety of misconduct in the case, including suborning perjury and lying about it for years. Those accusations, which ProPublica has investigated as part of its Out of Order series, have resulted in no sanctions.

“At this point, Hynes has been voted out, which was an unusual outcome in and of itself, and Mr. Vecchione has retired,” Fields, says, “Is that enough to essentially clean up the problems in Brooklyn, or in the system at large?” And if not, is there a way to quantify the amount of misconduct perpetrated by prosecutors?

Sadly, Sexton says, ProPublica’s reporting has revealed the answer to both questions to be “a resounding ‘no.’ ”

“Part of it is that so much of what prosecutors do in today’s justice system goes on outside of the courtroom,” he says, including plea bargains and prosecutors’ investigations themselves.

As long as that’s the case, Sexton says, there will be work to do.

Hear the full podcast on iTunes, SoundCloud and Stitcher. See our Out of Order series for more of ProPublica’s reporting on prosecutorial misconduct.






3 years ago

We often assume that the "Bad" guy is the accused and the "Good" guy is part of the prosecuting team. Is there any inclination to investigate the "Good" guys, just in case one of them is pretty smart is not "Good" and has found a way of hiding in the open. I think the term is "Snakes in Suits" or something very similar.

Nifty, Sensex headed lower – Monday closing report

Nifty may give up some more gains. It is too early to say where the support lies


We had mentioned in Friday closing report that the indices are at present overbought which may result in the benchmark giving up gains although the trend is up. Today, the market opened largely in the positive and the uptrend continued upto around 2.00 pm.


However, the indices fell sharply giving up all the intra day gains. Part of the reason was that Supreme Court today declared that the entire allocation of coal blocks from 1993 till 2010 was illegal, arbitrary, non-transparent and without application of mind and guidelines.

Sensex opened at 26,490 while the Nifty opened at 7,932. Both the benchmark hit its new life time high today at 26,631 and 7,968. However, giving up all the gains by the close of the session the indices entered negative zone and hit intra-day lows at 26,402 and 7,898. The indices closed almost at the day’s low with Sensex closing marginally up while the Nifty closing marginally lower. Sensex closed at 26,437 (up 17 points or 0.07%) while the Nifty closed at 7,906 (down 7 points or 0.09%). The NSE recorded a volume of 79.36 crore shares. India VIX rose 1.23% to close at 13.7875.

The top five gainers among the other indices on the NSE were FMCG (1.10%), IT (0.97%), Pharma (0.44%), Auto (0.20%) and Consumption (0.17%) while the top five losers were Metal (4.64%), Commodities (2.11%), Realty (2.06%), Nifty Midcap 50 (1.61%) and PSU Bank (1.57%).

Of the 50 stocks on the Nifty, 21 ended in the green. The top five gainers were TCS (2.33%), Hindustan Unilever (2.13%), Maruti (2.00%), Bhel (1.76%) and Cipla (1.74%). The top five losers were Jindal Steel (15.13%), Hindalco (9.97%), Tata Steel (5.11%), Sesa Sterlite (4.22%) and Tata Power (3.68%).

Of the 1,617 companies on the NSE, 587 companies closed in the positive, 972 companies closed in the negative while 58 companies closed flat.

There are reports that the Reserve Bank of India may relax its recently issued norms related to lending against shares to allow non-banking finance companies to lend against all categories of shares. Recently, RBI announced that NBFCs can lend only against Group 1 shares.

Finance Ministry today said it is considering bifurcation of the post of Chairman and Managing Director in public sector banks to strengthen corporate governance in the light of recent cases of corruption.

Emami which hit its 52-week high today was the top gainer (6.03%) in the ‘A’ group on the BSE. The Supreme Court declared that the entire allocation of coal blocks from 1993 till 2010 was illegal and that the government has allowed diversion of coal from ultra-mega power projects(UMPP) for commercial exploitation. The court directed that the coal blocks allocated for UMPPs would be used only for those projects and no diversion of coal for commercial exploitation would be permitted.  Among the stocks worst affected were Jindal Steel (13.97%), top loser in the ‘A’ group on the BSE while Hindalco (9.56%) among the top two losers in the ‘A’ on the BSE and top loser in Sensex 30 stock.

Tata Consultancy Services announced a partnership with Cloudera, enterprise analytic data management powered by Apache Hadoop™, certifying TCS’ global team of Big Data experts through the Cloudera Certified Professional (CCP) program. TCS (2.42%) was the top gainer in Sensex 30 pack.

US indices closed mostly lower on Friday. Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet Yellen in her speech on Friday said that the US economy has made considerable progress in recovering from the largest and most sustained loss of employment since the Great Depression. Yellen reiterated that early rate hikes are possible, but it will depend on how the economy evolves in the next few months.

Except for Shanghai Composite (0.51%), Jakarta Composite (    0.27%) and KLSE Composite (0.46%) all the other Asian indices closed in the positive. Nikkei 225 (0.48%) was the top gainer.

Financial markets in the UK are closed today, 25 August 2014, for a bank holiday. US Futures were trading in the green. German business confidence declined for a fourth month, reflecting a faltering euro-area economy that European Central Bank President Mario Draghi says might need more stimulus. The Ifo institute's business climate index, based on a survey of 7,000 executives, fell to 106.3 in August from 108 in July.


CBI registers FIR against members of SEBI: CNBC TV18

According to CNBC TV18, CBI has registered FIR against four people, including one former and one present ED of SEBI


The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Monday registered first information report (FIR) against former members of Securities & Exchange Board of India (SEBI). This include, JN Gupta, Muralidhar Rao, Vishakha More and Rajesh Dangeti, says a report from CNBC TV18. No more details were available.


JN Gupta, was executive director for a two year term from July 2009 and was in charge of market regulations, surveillance, derivatives and new products departments at SEBI. An IIT Kanpur graduate, Gupta is the founder and managing director of Stakeholders Empowerment Services - a proxy advisory services and corporate governance research enterprise.


SV Muralidhar Rao is also executive director of SEBI in the department of economic and policy analysis (DEPA).


Rajesh Dangeti is deputy general manager (Dy GM), while Vishakha More is an assistant general manager (AGM) in the market regulation department. More had received the best employee award from the Union Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment in 2012.



Vaibhav Dhoka

3 years ago

In India getting award is no problem as integrity is never checked.If one has contacts and political blessing he or she gets award.

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