Brooklyn DA Charles J Hynes should be very scared of the subpoena of 50-year-old ADA Barbara A. Burke in the wrongful conviction lawsuit of Jabbar Collins. She came to the job at the DA with a passion for the rights of the wrongfully convicted and she has blown the whistle before when she took on the Catholic Church.
In 2002, Barbara Burke* (using her married name, Barbara Samide) filed a theft complaint with the Queens district attorney against Reverend John Thompson, a priest in the Ozone Park St. Elizabeth parish of the school where she was principal. According to the New York Times, he “used money from the collection plate to pay for trips to the Blue Dolphin, a gay resort in Fort Lauderdale where clothing is optional.” He also used the money to pay for credit card bills, a luxury automobile lease, a vacation rental in Mexico, and other personal expenses. Eventually he pled guilty to stealing over $95,000.
Before she blew the whistle, she tried raising the issue within the church, moving up through the hierarchy to no avail. At some point, she filed a lawsuit alleging harassment and abuse. The diocese put her on unpaid leave. A year later she won a legal battle and forced the diocese to pay for the year she was out of work. Three years after she was first put on unpaid leave Newsday reported that Reverend Thompson, who got off without any time in jail, was still being lavishly funded by the diocese.
This time around she is in trouble with her bosses at the Brooklyn DA who summarily exiled her to their Siberia, the Early Case Assessment Bureau (ECAB). Before that she did appellate work at the office of DA. I am told she worked on the office’s response to the Jabbar Collins lawsuit which alleges policies and training which led to employee violations of defendant’s civil rights.
Such an assignment makes sense given her interests as a law student. At the Touro Law Center she worked with Martin A Schwartz, on some of the questions relevant to the Collins lawsuit. Schwartz went on to publish a “Municipal Liability and Liability of Supervisors: Litigation Significance of Recent Trends and Developments” together with other authors including Joel Rudin, the attorney for Jabbar Collins.
Once again she seems to have entered the heart of darkness. The Collins’ lawsuit focuses, among other things, on supervision and training by Michael Vecchione, the DA’s favorite and supposedly “very, very principled lawyer.” In fact, while Joe Hynes was defending him publicly during debates with Ken Thompson, his gatekeeper, Chief Assistant District Attorney Amy Feinstein, conceded remembering a raucous meeting that Vecchione completely denied remembering under oath even though he was the supervisor at that meeting. In effect, a case is building that Vecchione committed perjury under oath. Granted, it is hard to convict someone who commits perjury by claiming not to remember. On the other hand, in a jury trial of the Collins claims, it will be easy to convince a jury that Vecchione’s testimony is not credible.
I imagine ADA Burke was subpoenaed because of information she has about the office’s response to Jabbar Collins’ lawsuit. I am guessing she will be smart enough to hire her own lawyer for a deposition, rather than relying on representation by corporation counsel.
DA Hynes, and Michael Vecchione, and others in that office should be very scared of Barbara Burke (Samide). I put out the information about her blowing the whistle on the Catholic Church because I became convinced that the DA’s office was shortly going to try to smear her with their distorted version of that story. I felt it important to preempt them and share her version.
* How I confirmed the Link between the two names: At the time Barbara Burke blew the whistle on Father Thompson, she was working under her married name, Barbara Samide. She switched back to using her maiden name, Barbara A Burke, sometime between then and 2005, when she started in law school. In-between she also used the name Barbara Burke-Samide in an article she published with Karen Burke, an Associate Professor at St. John’s University (Jamaica, NY). The article, “Required changes in the classroom environment: It’s a matter of design,” is also listed in a page she posted along with her more recent legal products. The publication made sense for an educator who was pursuing a doctorate in instructional leadership. She switched careers and studied law at the Touro Law Center and graduated with a JD in 2010. Further confirmation was located in Jimmy Breslin’s The Church that Forgot Christ (2004) which devotes a chapter to Barbara Samide’s history with the RCC.
P.S. A REQUEST OF MY READERS. I imagine this story will be picked up by mainstream media. That is great because, above all, I went to get this story out to an audience much larger than I can ever hope to reach through my blog. Thus, I was also pleased when my July posting about Michael Vecchione waspicked up by the New York Post and aspects were confirmed by the DA in response to an inquiry by Michael Powell of the New York Times. Yet, I was disappointed that the NY Post did not cite my work. I am not being churlish. It is a violation of journalistic ethics not to acknowledge sources of information which published previously. More important, as blogs come to fill a gap in investigative journalism, those that do good work deserve credit and legitimation by media outlets that build upon their work. My request of my readers is that you write letters to the editors of those publications asking them to properly credit my work and the work of other bloggers. Please post copies of your letters here, in case they don’t publish them. Bloggers do not get paid for their work. Even those that advertise only get a pittance of an income stream. So let’s start rewarding them with credit by those who rely on their efforts.
Hat Tips: to employees, past and present of KCDA, to those in touch with them, and to the malach.