Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Judge overturns conviction based upon actual innocence

In New York, Manhattan Supreme Court (trial court) justice John Cataldo reversed a conviction on appeal on the grounds that the defendant had proven his actual innocence by clear and convincing evidence.

It has long been the rule that in order to appeal a conviction a defendant had to show he was harmed by a trial court's ruling or that there was no evidence that was not available at his trial. Whether one was factually innocent or not was not a question the appellate courts were concerned about.

Judge Cataldo's order in New York v. Bermudez might change the calculus. In his order, Judge Cataldo released Mr. Bermudez, after serving 18 years in prison, and ordered the indictment dismissed without prejudice.

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