The New York Daily News reports: A federal judge has put Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes in the  unusual position of having to defend himself before a jury – against claims he  is “deliberately indifferent” to misconduct by prosecutors in his office.

The judge ruled Friday that Jabbar  Collins, who served 15 years for a murder he did not commit, can argue at  his upcoming civil trial Hynes has never disciplined an assistant district  attorney in “scores” of prosecutorial misconduct cases.

It is extremely rare for a judge to allow such an accusation, known as a  Monell claim, to go forward against a district attorney’s office in New York  City, legal experts told the Daily News.

The Brooklyn federal judge who threw out Collins’ conviction in 2010 called  the conduct of prosecutors – including rackets bureau chief Michael Vecchione – during the trial and subsequent appeals “shameful.”

Hynes responded with a press release announcing Vecchione would not be  punished because he had done nothing wrong.

In Friday’s decision, Judge Frederic Block wrote, “The Court concludes that  Collins’ allegations regarding Hynes’ 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.”

Collins’ lawyer Joel Rudin said in a statement he would immediately seek  videotaped depositions of Hynes and Vecchione.

The timing couldn’t be worse for Hynes, who faces a tough re-election battle  this year from former Brooklyn federal prosecutor Kenneth Thompson and former  Manhattan Assistant District Attorney Abe George.

Collins’ Monell claim survived motions to dismiss despite a daunting burden  to show Hynes was aware of his subordinates’ unconstitutional conduct and did  nothing.

A spokesman for Hynes declined to comment.

Collins was convicted in 1995 of fatally shooting Rabbi Abraham Pollack  during a robbery and sentenced to 33 years to life.

When a key witness tried to recant, Vecchione allegedly threatened to smash  him over the head with a coffee table, and employed illegal tactics to pressure  him to stand by his previous testimony, according to court papers.

Vecchione is accused of fabricating evidence Collins and his family  threatened another witness.

The city, the district attorney’s office and two NYPD detectives involved  are named in the $150 million lawsuit The judge granted Vecchione and two other  prosecutors immunity. The trial is scheduled for April 8.

Source: NY Daily News


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