After serving 10 years in jail, it was discovered that the New York City Police Department didn't turn over critical information that deprived a man of a fair trial and thus, his conviction was set aside. The prosecutor's office in the Bronx was faced with the possibility of prosecuting this man again 10 years later.
Instead, says Judge Eugene Hyman, retired Superior Court Judge from Santa Clara, California, the prosecutors offer him to plead to one charge with the recommendation from them that he'd get credit for one year and he'd be off from probation and parole. While maintaining his innocence, he plead to the charge and was released.
Hyman says the question is whether one can plead guilty while maintaining they're innocent. The trial court needs to find a factual basis for the plea in order to accept it, so how can the court find a factual basis if someone is maintaining they're innocent? The answer, says Hyman, is that there's case law stating that if one is pleading guilty on the recommendation of their attorney and there is some evidence to support the plea, then the court can accept the plea, which is what happened in this case.
The person convicted is now bringing a civil rights action lawsuit under federal law against the City of New York. The City has moved for a summary adjudication, saying he didn't have the right to bring the lawsuit, as he admitted to committing the crime. The district court has reinstated his civil cause of action and so he can move forward with this case.
Hyman predicts that this will not go to trial, rather settling along with way, most likely with an amount on the small side.
Honorable Judge Eugene Hyman has received numerous awards and recognition for his work with families and children and has appeared on numerous television news shows. For more information, visit www.judgehyman.com. He is also a featured commentator on The Family Law Channel and The Legal Broadcast Network. The Legal Broadcast Network is a featured network of the Sequence Media Group.