The New York Daily News reports: A federal judge has put Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes in theÂ unusual position of having to defend himself before a jury – against claims heÂ is “deliberately indifferent” to misconduct by prosecutors in his office.
The judge ruled Friday that JabbarÂ Collins, who served 15 years for a murder he did not commit, can argue atÂ his upcoming civil trial Hynes has never disciplined an assistant districtÂ attorney in “scores” of prosecutorial misconduct cases.
It is extremely rare for a judge to allow such an accusation, known as aÂ Monell claim, to go forward against a district attorney’s office in New YorkÂ City, legal experts told the Daily News.
The Brooklyn federal judge who threw out Collins’ conviction in 2010 calledÂ the conduct of prosecutors – including rackets bureau chief Michael Vecchione – during the trial and subsequent appeals “shameful.”
In Friday’s decision, Judge Frederic Block wrote, “The Court concludes thatÂ Collins’ allegations regarding Hynes’ response – or lack thereof – to misconductÂ by Vecchione and other assistants make plausible his theory that Hynes was soÂ deliberately indifferent to the underhanded tactics that his subordinatesÂ employed as to effectively encourage them to do so.”
Collins’ lawyer Joel Rudin said in a statement he would immediately seekÂ videotaped depositions of Hynes and Vecchione.
The timing couldn’t be worse for Hynes, who faces a tough re-election battleÂ this year from former Brooklyn federal prosecutor Kenneth Thompson and formerÂ Manhattan Assistant District Attorney Abe George.
Collins’ Monell claim survived motions to dismiss despite a daunting burdenÂ to show Hynes was aware of his subordinates’ unconstitutional conduct and didÂ nothing.
A spokesman for Hynes declined to comment.
Collins was convicted in 1995 of fatally shooting Rabbi Abraham PollackÂ during a robbery and sentenced to 33 years to life.
When a key witness tried to recant, Vecchione allegedly threatened to smashÂ him over the head with a coffee table, and employed illegal tactics to pressureÂ him to stand by his previous testimony, according to court papers.
Vecchione is accused of fabricating evidence Collins and his familyÂ threatened another witness.
The city, the district attorney’s office and two NYPD detectives involvedÂ are named in the $150 million lawsuit The judge granted Vecchione and two otherÂ prosecutors immunity. The trial is scheduled for April 8.
Source: NY Daily News