New York Man Receives Hearing on Actual Innocence Claim
A landmark ruling in a New York appellate court on Wednesday will allow a man who spent 20 years in prison for a murder he says he did not commit a chance to clear his name based on his actual innocence.
According to the
New York Daily News
, in the case of Derrick Hamilton, the court found that incarcerating an innocent person is unconstitutional even when all legal protections have been met. “We’re happy that the court has recognized that the conviction of an actually innocent person is a violation of our constitution,” said Jonathan Edelstein, Hamilton’s lawyer. He explained that until now, a convict had to also cite another reason, such as ineffective counsel, as basis for a hearing.
reports that Hamilton expressed his thanks to the appellate court, but he also said, “[I] t is a crime that it has taken this long for me to receive a shot at justice.”
Hamilton, who was released on parole two years ago, was convicted of a 1991 Brooklyn homicide and has been fighting for years to clear his name. Despite evidence that shows he was out of state when the crime was committed and that a witness recanted, Hamilton’s requests were denied until yesterday.
According to the District Attorney’s office, prosecutors were already looking into Hamilton’s case as part of an unprecedented review of about 50 homicide cases that resulted in a guilty verdict handled by retired Detective Louis Scarcella.
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