Wrongful convictions in New York are probably a lot more common than we think. But proving a wrongfully conviction is indeed rare. It’s not easy peeling away at a skillful prosecutor’s evidence, especially from behind bars.
But some convicts have done it. And when they do, we should all rejoice because, “but for the grace of God, there go I”.
Does society owe such a person compensation? You bet. And compensation is what happened today in New York when Jabbar Collins (shown in the photo), a man who spent 16 years in prison for a murder he did not commit, and then spent three years in litigation against the City of New York, reached a $10,000,000 settlement. That’s about $600,000 per year in prison.
Collins was convicted of shooting to death a rabbi rent-collector in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. But Collins, who doggedly investigated his own conviction from jail, discovered, from behind bars, that the D.A.’s office had hidden important exculpatory evidence from him at the trial. He then got some help from a New York wrongful conviction lawyer, and together they discovered that the prosecutors had used the same dirty tricks in many other cases, which led to those other convictions being overturned as well.
Turns out Collins was no criminal. He’s a hero.
In all, Collins will receive a total of $13 million after settling a separate unjust conviction and imprisonment suit against New York State for $3 million last month.
And if you think that’s too much money, close your eyes and imagine the bitter despair in Collin’s heart and the black, suicidal thoughts in his mind as that prison door slammed behind him, knowing it wouldn’t open for him for a long, long time. Imagine his knowing that the world believed he committed a heinous crime he had nothing to do with. Imagine him knowing that his family had to carry the stigma of his infamy. Imagine his life behind bars surrounded by real dangerous criminals.
Personally, I’d rather have a terminal cancer diagnosis. I’d rather have my eyes pocked out. Sixteen years locked up, deprived of family, friends, joy, sun, sky, hope, love, sex, freedom. Nope, not for $13 million, not for $1 billion. If you’re honest with yourself, you probably feel the same way . . .
Email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org I’d love to hear from you!
Michael G. Bersani, Esq.
michaels-smolak.com Central NY Wrongful Conviction Lawyers
Michaels & Smolak, P.C.