News 07.01.08

NY State Senate Task Force to Hold Public Hearing July 2 on Preventing Wrongful Convictions


Marty Tankleff, Alan Newton, Innocence Project, others will speak tomorrow about the need for reforms to prevent wrongful convictions

(New York, NY; July 1, 2008) – At a public hearing in Manhattan tomorrow, July 2, the New York State Senate Democratic Task Force on Criminal Justice Reform will hear testimony on preventing wrongful convictions statewide.

Alan Newton, who was exonerated through DNA testing in 2006 after spending 21 years in prison for a Bronx rape he didn’t commit, will testify, as will Marty Tankleff, who was wrongfully convicted of murder on Long Island. Innocence Project Policy Director Stephen Saloom will testify at the hearing, as well.

In New York State, 23 people have been exonerated through DNA testing years or decades after they were wrongfully convicted. While New York is among the nation’s leaders in the number of wrongful convictions overturned with DNA testing, the state lags behind most other states in enacting reforms to the criminal justice system, according to the Innocence Project, which is affiliated with Cardozo School of Law. Last year, the Innocence Project published a 118-page report on wrongful convictions in New York State and reforms that can prevent them.

That report is available here

.

The New York State Bar Association recently formed a task force to study wrongful convictions, which the Innocence Project said is an important first step in identifying the causes of wrongful convictions and developing reforms. The President of the New York State Bar Association and the Chair of the new task force will both speak at tomorrow’s hearing.

This is the second in a series of four forums entitled “Preventing Wrongful Convictions in New York State: Systematic Reforms to Convict the Guilty and Protect the Innocent” to be held across the state by the Senate Democratic Taskforce on Criminal Justice Reform (spearheaded by State Senator Eric Schneiderman). At each forum, legislators and the public hear testimony from experts and exonerees on four reform measures — mandatory electronic recording of police interrogations, preservation of DNA evidence, eyewitness identification reforms, and the creation of an Innocence Commission — that have been proposed in the New York State Legislature to help prevent wrongful convictions.

WHAT: Public Forum on Preventing Wrongful Convictions in New York State: Systematic Reforms to Convict the Guilty and Protect the Innocent

WHEN: Wednesday, July 2nd, 2008, 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.

WHERE: Malcolm X & Dr. Betty Shabazz

Memorial & Educational Center

3940 Broadway (at 165th Street)

New York City

(A, C, or 1 trains to 168th Street, facility and subway stop are wheelchair accessible)

WHO: State Senator Eric Schneiderman, Chair and other state legislators


Testimony from:



9:30 AM

Alan Newton

, Innocence Project client exonerated through DNA testing in 2006 after 21 years in prison

10:15 AM Bernice Leber, President of the New York State Bar Association, and Barry Kamins, Chair of the NYS Bar Association’s Innocence Commission and Immediate Past President of NYC Bar Association

11:00 AM Martin Tankleff, whose Long Island murder conviction was vacated several months ago; yesterday, the state Attorney General announced that Tankleff will not be tried again in the case

12:00 PM Stephen Saloom, Policy Director at the Innocence Project (affiliated with Cardozo School of Law)

12:45PM Jonathan Gradess, Executive Director of the New York State Defenders Association

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