On November 1, following an five-day trial, which concluded in August 2022, Judge Richard Sise of the New York Court of Claims issued a decision in favor of a Davis Polk pro bono client, finding that the State of New York is liable to him for his unjust conviction and imprisonment pursuant to the New York Court of Claims Act Section 8-b. Our client served over 26 years in prison for a crime he did not commit and was released in 2019 after a Davis Polk team assisted in achieving his exoneration. Now, the Court of Claims has found that our client is “actually innocent” by clear and convincing evidence, a higher standard than is required for a criminal conviction. The Court credited our client’s testimony, as well as those of all three fact witnesses – a group of individuals who the team tracked down despite them being respectively incarcerated, living far away, dramatically traumatized by witnessing the crime and unwilling to be deposed. Specifically, the Court noted that “the credible evidence points entirely toward claimant’s innocence.”

The Court’s decision is not only a personal victory for our client – who has always maintained his innocence, and, as the Court found, did not contribute in any way to his own conviction – it will also serve as an important precedent for others who have been wrongfully convicted and imprisoned.

The Davis Polk team, which will continue to represent our client as the case proceeds to a trial on damages, includes partner Greg Andres, Chief Pro Bono Counsel Amelia Starr, counsel Craig Cagney and Head of Pro Bono Litigation Dara Sheinfeld, associates Christina Costello, Alexa Jacobson and Zulkar Zhan, legal assistant Theresa Bruney, and former associates, Rae Berger, Courtney Daukas and Chris Goetz. Neufeld Scheck & Brustin served as co-counsel.

Learn more about Davis Polk’s Pro Bono program.