New York City has agreed to pay $10 million to settle a wrongful conviction lawsuit filed by Jabbar Collins, who spent 15 years in prison for a murder he did not commit.
The settlement announced today concludes a decades-long struggle for Collins, now 42.
He was just 22 when he was sent to Green Haven Correctional Facility in upstate New York for the 1994 murder of Brooklyn landlord Abraham Pollack. In the years that followed, Collins turned his cell into a full-fledged jailhouse lawyer’s office. He filed Freedom of Information Requests, re-interviewed witnesses, and taught himself to write and submit legal motions. Eventually, he gained the attention of a Manhattan defense attorney named Joel Rudin, who helped Collins win his freedom by persuading Federal Judge Dora Irizarry to vacate his conviction in 2010.
As ProPublica has reported, the effort by Rudin and Collins, in many ways, helped trigger the downfall of former Brooklyn District Attorney Charles “Joe” Hynes, whose top aide Michael Vecchione prosecuted Collins. In their lawsuit, Collins and Rudin accused Vecchione of violating several bedrock legal principles in order to win the conviction, saying he coerced witnesses, withheld exculpatory evidence, and suborned perjury. To bolster their claim, Collins and Rudin pointed to other instances of similar abuses by Brooklyn prosecutors, suggesting thatwhat Vecchione did was part of a larger, systemic pattern of misconduct that Hynes either overlooked or encouraged during his 23 years in office.
More: New York City Will Pay $10 Million to Settle Wrongful Conviction Case - ProPublica