The Nassau County District Attorney, in a legal filing with the criminal court earlier this month, has called on Judge Teresa Corrigan to deny Jesse Friedman’s defense team the right to discovery and subpoena power, two very important elements in any fair trial, in his upcoming actual innocence hearing in Nassau Criminal Court.
“Defendant’s motion for a subpoena duces tecum (subpoena for the production of evidence) and for post conviction discovery should be denied in every respect.” See http://bit.ly/1cZrT5X
Twenty-seven years after Jesse Friedman was wrongfully convicted, and a dozen years of fighting to overturn that conviction, this filing is the latest attempt by the Nassau County DA to continue to keep the files of the Friedman investigation closed to defense attorneys as well as the public. The filing is also intended to prevent Friedman’s team having the opportunity to review elements of the investigative file, which is believed to contain evidence of his innocence.
The DA has said that our request for discovery, the process that all defense attorneys go through prior to a hearing, is a “fishing expedition” and, “a misguided attempt to get unfettered access to the prosecution’s files.” They also say there is no “constitutional right to post conviction discovery, even though the New York State Legislature has allowed it in certain cases.”
Want proof it’s not a fishing expedition? You may remember that Judge F. Dana Winslow, in August 2103, ordered all the files opened in the interest of justice. http://bit.ly/1BuJev8 Judge Winslow spoke into the record at that time indicating the existence of Brady evidence (called so because of Brady v Maryland) in the files, or in other words, evidence that could demonstrate Friedman’s innocence. Knowing this, the DA’s appeal of that order to the New York State Appellate Court seems in line with their all out effort to keep the Friedman defense team from gaining access to the information to which every defendant is entitled.
Police detectives in Nassau County interviewed a hundred children who attended computer classes in the Friedman home in the mid 1980s. Most said absolutely nothing happened in those classes. In fact, parents of many of the children visited the classes and picked their children up and have stated that they saw or heard nothing of the allegation that hundreds of rapes and sexual assaults took place.
As we continue to prep for our upcoming actual innocence hearing, we have over 30 eyewitnesses to the computer classes who have stated that they saw no wrongdoing, and five of the 14 students, who allegedly made incriminating statement to detectives, have now recanted.
Seeing the Nassau County DA’s office fighting in the appellate court to keep the files on the Friedman case closed and fighting in the criminal court to block the Friedman team’s right to discovery and subpoena power makes us wonder, what are they so afraid of? What’s in those files that has them fighting so hard to keep them out of the light of day, and, without discovery or the ability to subpoena witnesses, we wonder whose idea of a fair trial this is. Certainly not ours.