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Litigating Unjust Conviction Cases in New York Part I


Created on January 12, 2015



Unjust, or wrongful, convictions – that is, when people are convicted of crimes for which they are in fact innocent – are some of the most frequent headline stories to come out of America's criminal justice system.  Recently, several highly publicized cases of wrongful imprisonment have captivated our attention: David Ranta, Roger Logan, Jonathan Fleming, Derrick Hamilton, and Antonio Yarbrough, to name just a few.  Each of these men were released from prison this year after it was determined that they had been wrongfully imprisoned.  At the time of release, almost all had been incarcerated for at least 20 years. 


The New York State Court of Claims Act § 8-b, also known as The Unjust Conviction and Imprisonment Act of 1984, allows wrongfully convicted defendants who have served all or part of their sentence to seek compensation from the State if certain requirements have been met. 


In this course, Ameer Benno, a New York City-based civil rights attorney, introduces viewers to the litigation of unjust conviction cases in New York.  This course provides an overview of the legal landscape of these claims, with emphasis on the numerous procedural and substantive pitfalls facing lawyers who litigate these challenging cases. 


Learning Objectives:

I.       Understand the narrow “eligible grounds” for bringing an unjust conviction lawsuit and the barriers that can preclude people who were wrongfully convicted and imprisoned from recovering damages

II.      Become acquainted with the elements of an unjust conviction claim and how the courts have interpreted those elements

III.     Comprehend the unique and strictly enforced pleading requirements of these claims

IV.     Gain insight on Court of Claims practice, the most frequently encountered discovery issues, and how to address them

V.      Examine the interplay between unjust conviction claims and other civil rights claims, such as Section 1983



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