According to the New York Law Journal
A federal judge has ruled that Jabbbar Collins who was incarcerated for 16 years for the now-vacated murder conviction can press his arguments that Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes and the NYPD were “deliberately indifferent” to the misconduct that secured his conviction.
Eastern District Judge Frederic Block declined on Feb. 15 to dismiss civil rights claims against the city by Jabbar Collins because he said Collins had adequately pleaded allegations against the municipality.
However, the judge “reluctantly” dismissed claims against the prosecutor who tried Collins, Assistant District Attorney Michael Vecchione, saying that he was shielded by absolute prosecutorial immunity.
Collins alleged in his $150 million suit that Vecchione—now the bureau chief of the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Rackets Division—fabricated evidence and did not reveal a witness’ recantation, among other things. Hynes is not a defendant in the suit but has praised Vecchione and defended his conduct in the Collins case.
Block observed that, at this stage of the litigation, Collins was entitled to argue that Hynes’ support of Vecchione reflected a “tacit” policy to condone any actions his subordinates thought necessary to achieve a conviction.
“The Court concludes that Collins’s allegations regarding Hynes’s response—or lack thereof—to misconduct by Vecchione and other assistants make plausible his theory that Hynes was so deliberately indifferent to the underhanded tactics that his subordinates employed as to effectively encourage them to do so,” Block said.
Hynes, I am told, makes it his business not to have decisions kicked up to him in writing. If true this makes it easier for him to shield himself from any proof of politically motivated prosecutorial decisions. At the same time he has kept Michael Vecchione in his position as head of rackets in spite of multiple allegations of prosecutorial misconduct. For better and for worse, prosecutors have absolute immunity from being directly sued for most forms of misconduct.
In this case, Hynes accepted the court ruling that threw out the conviction while implying that Collins was still guilty but it would be too hard to successfully prosecute him after all this time.
Samuel Kellner‘s indictment was also the work of the Rackets Division headed by Michael Vecchione. It seems the information on which the indictment was based came from Vecchione’s old buddy and prosecution coworker, Arthur Aidala, who is now the defense attorney for Baruch Lebovits.