April 05, 2019
In June 2018, the president of the New York State Bar Association (NYSBA) formed a Task Force on Wrongful Convictions to investigate, analyze and offer recommendations on the issue of wrongful criminal convictions in New York State.
The Task Force is chaired by former judges the Honorable Barry Kamins and the Honorable Robert S. Smith, and consists of sitting district attorneys, academics, practitioners, a current U.S. district court judge from the Southern District of New York, and representatives from organizations including the Legal Aid Society, Innocence Project and New York Attorney General’s Office, as well as an exoneree. The Task Force has subcommittees focused on the following issues: conviction integrity units, forensic issues, actual innocence, the implementation of new statewide legislation, and the use of jailhouse informants.
Weil partner Benjamin Marks serves as a member of the Task Force, and Weil associates Jessica Djilani and Taylor Dougherty have assisted the Task Force by conducting interviews with various representatives from prosecutorial and defender organizations, and by conducting legal research for the various subcommittees, including a 50-state survey on the admissibility standards for forensic evidence, countrywide research on the regulation of the use of jail-house informant testimony, and implementation of new legislation regulating in-custody interviews and blinded lineups in New York.
Mr. Marks was the principal draftsperson of the report from the subcommittee on conviction integrity units, and Ms. Djilani and Ms. Dougherty assisted with other portions of the Task Force’s Report and Recommendations. Other Weil associates and summer associates have had the opportunity to attend quarterly meetings of the Task Force, during which the subcommittees provided updates on their research and offered proposed recommendations for full Task Force input.
The Task Force’s Report and Recommendations on Wrongful Convictions in New York State was submitted to the NYSBA, and Task Force co-chairs Judge Kamins and Judge Smith will present the Report and Recommendations to the NYSBA House of Delegates this month, at which point the House of Delegates will vote on whether to adopt the Task Force’s Report and Recommendations.