This afternoon, the chief judge of New York’s highest court said he would create a permanent task force to examine the causes of wrongful convictions and evaluate policy reforms to prevent injustice. Court of Appeals Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman said the commission would review exoneration cases in the state and “see what we need to do to change the criminal justice system so this doesn’t happen.”
The Innocence Project called the task force “a huge step forward.”
“We commend Chief Judge Lippman for creating a permanent state entity that will look seriously at these problems and develop systemic solutions to enhance public safety,” Innocence Project Co-Director Peter Neufeld said in a statement today. “This task force will be a national model for how the judiciary branch can improve the criminal justice system through court rules, legislation and training. As a permanent state entity, the task force will also be able to monitor how reforms are working and pursue further improvements.”
Led by Theodore T. Jones, an associate judge on the Court of Appeals, and Janet DiFiore, the district attorney of Westchester County, the task force will also include State Senator Eric T. Schneiderman and Assemblyman Joseph R. Lentol, chairmen of the committees that have jurisdiction over criminal justice legislation in their respective chambers of the Legislature. Other members of the task force will be named later, Mr. Lippman said.
“This is the judiciary acknowledging that there are many people passing through the justice system who are innocent,” Mr. Schneiderman said. “It is a very big step.”
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. (New York Times, 05/01/09)