Editorial calls for special prosecutor in New York case


For nearly two decades, Marty Tankleff has said he was wrongfully convicted of killing his parents. Last week, the conviction was finally thrown out, due to evidence pointing to Tankleff’s innocence and the involvement of alternate suspects. He was released from prison on bail while prosecutors consider a new trial in the case.

And an editorial in yesterday’s New York Times calls for Suffolk County officials to appoint a special outside prosecutor in the case to ensure that any retrial is handled fairly.

Now that Mr. Tankleff has won another day in court, his case deserves a dispassionate, thorough and honest re-examination. Mr. Tankleff’s defenders insist that this is not possible from the Suffolk County district attorney, Thomas Spota. They are demanding that he hand the case to a special prosecutor. While Mr. Spota had no direct involvement in the Tankleff prosecution, which was tried by his predecessor, he and his office do have multiple connections to some members of the large cast of characters in this convoluted case. A detective who lied to Mr. Tankleff while taking his confession, for example, had been previously defended by Mr. Spota, then a private lawyer, in a corruption investigation, and later when the detective was accused of assault.

The law can be swift and sure when making a case against a defendant and hustling him off to prison. When it is found to have made grave errors, it must be just as honest and forceful in correcting them. We are counting on Mr. Spota to pursue the fairest case the evidence now supports. Or to back away if — as so many on Mr. Tankleff’s side insist — the evidence just isn’t there.

Read the full editorial here

. (New York Times, 12/30/07)

For more than a year, an official New York state inquiry has examined the investigation and prosecution of the case by Suffolk County officials, a source told the New York Times.

"The (State Investigation Committee) is viewing this as a serious and significant investigation,” said a person who works with the officials overseeing the investigation and who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the matter was confidential. “The commission is looking at how Suffolk County handled this case.”

Read the full story here

. (New York Times, 12/29/07)

Read more about Tankleff’s case here


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