This month, the New York State Bar Association established a task force of 22 professors, former judges, prosecutors, defense attorneys and others to identify rules, procedures and statutes contributing to the problem of wrongful convictions. The news release issued earlier this month lists BLS Prof. William Hellerstein as one of the task force members. Professor Hellerstein, who has been a member of the faculty since 1985, is the author of articles, books and reports on criminal law and constitutional litigation. An experienced civil rights and appellate advocacy authority, Prof. Hellerstein brings the perspective of the defense bar to this new task force. See Second Look Victory, a 2004 News Channel 4 report which briefly covers the reversal of the wrongful murder conviction of David Wong, for whom Prof. Hellerstein, the Director of Brooklyn Law School’s Second Look Clinic, served as lead counsel.
Other members of the task force with connections to BLS are the Hon. Charles J. Hynes, Kings County District Attorney and BLS Adjunct Professor of Law; David Louis Cohen, Esq., BLS Class of 1971; and the Hon. George Bundy Smith, Retired Court of Appeals Judge and 2008 BLS commencement speaker.
The Task Force is expected to conduct an analysis of cases in New York State that have led to wrongful convictions and to hold hearings with input from communities around the state and to study the rules, procedures and statutes that may play a part in wrongful convictions. Adequacy of compensation is one of the key issues under review. The Task Force is expected to issue a final report in April 2009.