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Overturning Faulty, Unfair Convictions–which Disproportionate Impact Blacks and Latinos–Is Near Impossible Due to Legal Roadblocks


Although fairness requires that, even for defendants who have already been convicted of a crime by a jury, if new evidence emerges, a jury be able to consider this new evidence to determine whether it raises a reasonable doubt as to their guilt, in our criminal justice system, most of those wrongfully convicted and imprisoned do not have the resources to fight in the post-conviction process, and it is close-to-impossible to reverse convictions; even with new evidence that raises serious doubts about a verdict. In a number of cases each year, judges frequently rubber stamp a prosecutor’s arguments on post-conviction writs of habeas corpus, raising serious questions as to whether they’ve even read a defendant’s claims.

When defendants are able to obtain appeals, evidence has less weight there than it did at trial. Instead, procedural issues typically dominate at that level–for example, jury selection issues–even when convictions were built on weak foundations; including in capital cases where DNA evidence exists that could set defendants free. In a system that values closure over accuracy, there are simply too many roadblocks to proving your innocence after conviction, where raising a reasonable doubt as to guilt is no longer enough and, as a result, many innocent people suffer behind bars each year.

New Report Out of Brooklyn, New York Finds 24 Out of 25 Wrongful Convictions Involved Minority Defendants

In addition, a significant number of wrongful conviction cases involve either Black or Latino defendants. For example, just looking at data collected by the Brooklyn, New York Conviction Review Unit revealed that 24 out of 25 wrongful conviction cases involved either Black or Latino defendants, each of which served an average of 17 years in prison after being convicted on evidence that was clearly flawed from the outset such that they should not have been prosecuted in the first place. According to the report, these convictions were, in many cases, directly contradicted by physical or testimonial evidence, all of which deprived the defendants of a fair trial. This included the destruction or withholding of key evidence, eyewitness identification issues, and false confessions.

The First Step Act Ignored by Some Judges

Lauded as the most consequential criminal justice legislation passed in a generation, the First Step Act led a number of inmates to apply to have their sentences reduced because the legislation was  supposedly designed and passed to address the severely unfair penalties that were put in place for nonviolent crack cocaine crimes that left an entire generation of first-time offenders locked away for decades. However, depending upon the judges that originally sentenced these defendants years before, for many, this was never a possibility, as these judges decided that they would not be granting motions for resentencing under the First Step Act.

Work with The Best New York Criminal Defense Lawyer

If you or a loved one is facing charges, it is crucial that you do not become a victim of an unfair trial or wrongful conviction. From the outset, working with the best legal representation is key to ensuring that you are assured a fair trial and your rights are protected. Contact experienced NYC criminal attorney Mark I. Cohen, Esq. today to find out more about our superior criminal defense services.






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"... Mr. Cohen's effort... in everything he has done before the Court, is A-Plus... [R]ecently, in another case... [before me], the result he achieved for his client... was quite impressive." Honorable Kenneth M. Karas, United States District Judge for the Southern District of New York.


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