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Wednesday, August 31, 2011

District Attorney Blasts Trial Judge Who Set Aside Murder Conviction

Queens D.A. Blasts Trial Judge Who Set Aside Murder Conviction
The New York Law Journal by Daniel Wise  -  August 31, 2011

Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown, criticizing a trial judge for accepting "a fraud perpetrated" on the court, has ruled out retrying a Far Rockaway man who was convicted of murder 15 years ago, calling the case "unprosecutable."  "Sadly," Mr. Brown said in a statement yesterday, Acting Supreme Court Justice Joel L. Blumenfeld had "embraced the fraud" when he set aside the conviction of Kareem Bellamy in 2008 after the judge found that the cumulative effect of newly discovered evidence would have likely led a jury to reach a different verdict.  Mr. Brown's decision brings to a close a six-year legal battle in which the Queens District Attorney's Office and Mr. Bellamy's pro bono legal team, which included eight lawyers from Cravath, Swaine & Moore, accused each other of using false evidence (NYLJ, June 27). The case against Mr. Bellamy will be over when he next appears in court. His next scheduled date is Sept. 27.  Twice during the course of the litigation, Mr. Brown issued press statements claiming that Justice Blumenfeld had allowed "duplicity" to be used "to unjustly unlock a jail cell door."  In court papers, prosecutors accused the lead lawyer from Cravath, partner Darin P. McAtee, of having "grave doubts" about some of the evidence advanced on Mr. Bellamy's behalf.  The Cravath team fired back in its papers that prosecutors had presented an affidavit "riddled with falsehoods."  Justice Blumenfeld, through his law clerk, declined to comment. Robin Shanzer, a spokeswoman for Cravath, also declined to comment.  "We are pleased that Mr. Bellamy's 17-year ordeal is over," said Thomas Hoffman, the Manhattan solo practitioner who recruited Cravath to the case.  Mr. Bellamy spent 14 years in prison before Justice Blumenfeld vacated his conviction for a 1994 murder on the strength of another man's purported confession. Mr. Bellamy has been out of prison since 2008, when he posted the $150,000 bail that the judge set in the wake of his ruling.  That ruling, and subsequent decision after a rehearing, were affirmed by the Appellate Division, Second Department, in May (People v. Bellamy, 84 AD3d 1260). Earlier this month Judge Carmen Beauchamp Ciparick of the Court of Appeals denied the district attorney's request for leave for review by the high court.  Mr. Brown insisted in his statement that Mr. Bellamy had not been exonerated.  "Appellate review of the post conviction hearing court's decision, based largely on credibility, was very limited," he said. "We believe those limitations constrained the Court of Appeals decision not to grant leave and the Appellate Division's decision in upholding the post-conviction hearing court. We accept the decisions of the Court of Appeals and Appellate Division."  Justice Blumenfeld based his 2008 ruling on a purported confession by the real killer that a resident of the Edgemere housing projects in Far Rockaway, Michael Green, taped and relayed to the defense team.  Shorty after the ruling was issued, the man who allegedly made the confession came forward and denied making it. After prosecutors confronted Mr. Green, he admitted that the tape was bogus and recanted his testimony about the confession.  However, after conducting a six-day rehearing, Justice Blumenfeld adhered to his original ruling, finding that the confession as related by Mr. Green bore significant parallels to information related to the police by a witness at the time of the murder. Most significantly, he wrote in a decision issued on Jan. 14, 2010, the earlier witness identified the same killer and accomplice as had Mr. Green.  The Second Department panel agreed that "a reasonable jury could find, as the Supreme Court did here, that the informant's original unsolicited implication of [the claimed killer] was truthful, regardless of the later recantation of those statements."  Moreover, the unanimous panel added, "the fact that the informant implicated…the same people as were implicated in a police report contemporaneous to the homicide, could raise a reasonable doubt in the jurors' minds, especially given the less than overwhelming evidence against the defendant at trial."  Daniel Wise can be contacted at


wondering said...

What the hell is an "acting" judge?
Was this clown elected or not?

Anonymous said...

"Acting" Judge is just a made-up position to give them more money.

There is no legal position or salary, but as we all know, the OCA isn't bothered by such details. They just do what they want.

Lippman's motto: Let them eat cake.

Anonymous said...

Don't know the details of this case but I do know that Richard Brown is phony bastard - a low class whoremaster

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