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Apr 04 2011

AG Ordered to Turn Over Evidence in Tankleff Case

In a decision filed Friday by Federal Magistrate Judge William Wall, the NY State Attorney General’s Office was ordered to turn over its files in the Marty Tankleff case to Tankleff’s civil lawyers. To the lay person , it must seem like a simple request – Now that my conviction has been overturned, can I please see the files of your investigation that helped overturn my conviction? But nothing is easy for those who were wrongfully convicted.  The State system for compensation, The Unjust Conviction Act, allows only a paltry sum to be paid to the innocent men who faced years of prison time for something they didn’t do. If you want to get more than the Act allows (approx. $50,000 per year for each year of false incarceration) you have to prove that the DA or police or both intentionally acted improperly to obtain your conviction.,  A tough thing to prove especially when the DA and police hold all the cards- the records, files and information about the investigation.

Tankleff is suing the Suffolk District Attorney’s Office (and others) over their false arrest and imprisonment of him in connection with his parents’ murders.  His diligence in seeking an independent review of his criminal case after a Suffolk Judge rejected all of the new evidence his team uncovered resulted in   the NY State Attorney General’s Office opening up its own investigation. The AG’s office conducted an extensive review into the case which resulted in the  AG’s motion “for the dismissal of Tankleff’s indictments in the interest of justice.” The Tankleff team now wanted to examine the files  for evidence it could use in the civil trial against the local authorities.

But the AG opposed the application, arguing a host of privileges that it claimed protected the material from disclosure.  In a victory for open government advocates, the court held that the AG’s general, vague and non-specific concerns about the impact disclosure would have on future investigations were insufficient to block Tankleff’s strong need for the material.  The court  ordered  the material to be turned over by April 12, 2011.

The material should shed interesting light on the evidence secured by the AG and its examination of the work done by the Suffolk DA’s office all those years ago. The embarrassing spectacle of the Suffolk DA”s attempts to keep Tankleff in jail despite all the evidence of his innocence have long been documented elsewhere, so I won’t repeat the history.  What this decision highlights is the need for persistence, perseverance and diligence in first overturning a wrongful conviction and then in trying to obtain compensation for the harm done to the wrongfully convicted.  I suspect the Suffolk DA’s office will be none too pleased about this decision and the light it may shed on the office.

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  1. Jeff Miller

    From the very little information that I have, I see this as a false accusation which in and of itself is a crime. Obviously our world in general does not care much about biblical law, but why was the law on this topic so serious. Let’s take a closer look. In Martin’s case, the majority of his young life was stolen from him based on a false accusation. The biblical penalty for false accusation is that the accuser be obligated to suffer the penalty for the crime that he was falsely accusing another of. But who was the false accuser in this case. Lead investigator, Detective Mccready certainly failed in his job to exercise due dilligence and investigate the case. In fact, it didn’t seem that he investigated anything. From start to finish in this case he seemed to do nothing more than work on getting a conviction. When are we going to stop letting these self-servers get away with their harmful actions. Again, back to who is the false accuser in this case. Personally, I think Mccready should be in jail. He refused to follow evidence and leads that may have led him to apprehending the actual murderers possibly within just weeks. Still pretty good for the statistics, so why did he instead choose to overlook critical clues and refuse to follow reasonable leads of potential attackers who actually had a motive? Was he just lazy? Instead of doing his job he lied about fictitious evidence that never existed in order to coerce a confession out of an innocent boy. How many other times has this been tolerated? Many! Mr. Mccready took an oath to protect and serve the public and instead he and his team did just the opposite probably quite a few times over how ever many years they were priviledged to serve their state and their country. Anyone and everyone involved with the unjust persecution of either innocent citizens or even the guilty should be held accountable. Unjust persecution would include not only treatment, but also overlooking evidence or leads in a capital crime because you lack the ability to separate your own egocentric opinion from facts that might lead the investigation elsewhere. These investigations are not supposed to be about closing a case or winning in court! They are supposed to be about discovering the truth. Anyone who knowingly conducts an investigation or a prosecution in a case like this without exercising an appropriate amount of due dilligence in finding the truth is no better than the actual murderers out there. They are as self-serving and evil as the man or woman committing a murder for their own selfish purposes. One out of twenty or 5% of those executed for capital murder have been posthumously acquitted, how many more lost their lives while serving life sentences for crimes they didn’t commit? How many detectives and attorneys profitted either financially or simply by increased status and reputation by using similar tactics and ignoring obvious clues that they may be wrong simply to preserve their statistics or to secure their next promotion? I wouldn’t be surprised if those sworn to protect and serve along with the attorneys on either side depending on the situation are responsible for ruining just as many lives due to their own greed as the actual murderers. In the Tankleff case, it looks very very bad for detective Mccready, if false accusation was really a crime that people took seriously, he could easily be serving 50 to life himself and I think that most random selections of 12 jurors would agree that he accused an innocent young man of murder, pursued his conviction relentlessly, ignoring all other evidence and leads to the contrary almost as if he received payment or death threats to pursue Martin and ONLY Martin. I’m obviously sickened by this or I wouldn’t be writing some stupid essay that know one cares to read. So officially the state of New York is the accuser in this situation and you certainly can’t put the state judicial system in jail, so who pays for this crime of false accusation? Unfortunately for detective Mccready, I believe it falls on him AND that he should be held accountable, instead he’s probably retired collecting a nice pension and his crime will not only go unpunished, but rewarded. Can we prove that he lied to coerce a confession and then use it to ruin a young man’s life? Yes. Can we prove that he ignored viable leads and refused to look into them which in fact caused time critical evidence to go unseen and unconsidered? Yes. Did he even question friends and family of the accused? No. Did he question and consider other leads? No. Did his actions lead to and were in fact even aimed at taking away another man’s freedom? Yes. Did he lie to coerce a confession intentionally? Yes. Was his refusal to consider evidence and leads that may have pointed to another suspect intentional? Yes. Did his actions cause harm to another person’s right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness? Yes. I have alot of questions… who else participated in this crime? How many members of the investigative or prosecution teams participated in this crime that stole what some may argue as the most important 17 years of an innocent man’s life? Why are they not held accountable? When will we open our eyes and start pursuing some action that might make these crimes of false accusations and wrongful convictions at least frowned upon? I get worse looks for smoking a cigarette than these money hungry ego-centric self-servers get for taking another’s life away from them. My last point is that this is a very disgusting world we live in, at least it is for people with principle and integrity and I hope that someday I get to see it start to improve instead of constantly getting worse.

  2. Kevin Mac

    Agreed!

    1. Oscar Michelen

      Also agreed! And today is Marty’s birthday!

  3. Thomas Howard

    I have a brother doing 52 years in Louisiana for something he didn’t do and I agree with this essay 100%. Great job and well said!

    1. Oscar Michelen

      Thanks Thomas – Very disturbing to hear about your brother, is there a review of his case under way?

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