The former Brooklyn District Attorney, Charles (Joe) Hynes is in the news again, for yet more evidence of his office’s outrageous record of wrongful convictions and indifference to elementary justice. This time it becomes clear that he kept on protesting that Jabbar Collins was guilty of murder when he knew better. Michael Powell of the New York Times tracks this arc of denial in his weekly column. He closes with Mr Hynes’ testimony in a deposition by Joel Rudin, attorney for Jabbar Collins, a man who is suing for the sixteen years he spent wrongfully imprisoned for a murder he did not commit. Powell concludes his column:
Did you, Mr. Rudin asked the district attorney, ask Mr. Vecchione when he learned of the office’s failure to turn over crucial evidence?
“No, I did not,” Mr. Hynes replied.
Did you ask anyone else?
“No, I did not.”
You could laugh this off as lawyerly fencing, but for the fact that Mr. Hynes was the chief prosecutor in a borough of 2.5 million people.
The mystery that remains is the city Law Department’s vigorous and continuing defense against Mr. Collins’s lawsuit.
The long-imprisoned man seeks $150 million, and no doubt that has city lawyers inhaling deeply. Mr. Hynes’s testimony, however, reads like a man giving up the legal ghost.
Now the city must attach a dollar figure to the words “we’re sorry.”