Panel named to review trial convictions involving retired Brooklyn detective
Former Brooklyn judge named as chair
Kings County District Attorney Charles J. Hynes on Monday announced the creation of an independent panel that will review the integrity of jury trial convictions involving Detective Louis Scarcella. The 12-member panel includes former federal and New York State judges, academicians and attorneys.
The D.A.’s Conviction Integrity Unit began an internal investigation of the 1991 murder conviction of David Ranta. Based on their findings, Ranta’s conviction was vacated earlier this year. The investigation revealed allegations of improprieties on the part of the investigating detective, Louis Scarcella. D.A. Hynes is now investigating 40 convictions, involving 50 defendants, from the 1980s and 1990s, in which Scarcella played a role. The panel will consult and advise on all cases currently being investigated by experienced assistant district attorneys.
In May, the New York Times reported that Scarcella had been accused of manipulating investigations and using faulty witnesses to secure arrests and subsequent convictions. One of the larger cases handled by Scarcella was the David Ranta case.
As reported by the Brooklyn Daily Eagle in March, Ranta who spent more than two decades behind bars, was freed by a judge on Thursday after a reinvestigation of his case cast serious doubt on evidence used to convict him in the shooting of a Brooklyn rabbi. With the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office acknowledging that the case had been “significantly eroded,” Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Miriam Cyrulnik vacated the judgment and murder indictment against David Ranta, ordering him a free man.
Ranta is now suing the city and the two detectives that investigated his case for $150 million in damages stemming from the wrongful imprisonment and alleged malicious prosecution.
“I want to thank the members of this review panel for agreeing to volunteer their valuable time for this important matter,” said D.A. Hynes. “Each member brings with them a wealth of legal knowledge, practical experience and exceptional judgment that will be vital as we dissect old homicide cases.”
The Honorable Robert G.M. Keating, a former administrative judge for Brooklyn Supreme Court, will chair the panel. He is the current vice-chair of the Mayor’s Advisory Committee on the Judiciary. He is vice president for strategic initiatives at Pace University and an adjunct professor at Pace Law School. Keating was also formerly the New York City criminal justice coordinator as well as dean of the New York State Judicial Institute.
Patricia L. Gatling is the commissioner and chair of the New York City Commission on Human Rights under Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg. She was the first assistant district attorney at the Kings County District Attorney’s Office in charge of the Major Narcotics Investigations Bureau, the Community Relations Bureau, Legal Hiring, Inter-Agency Training, and Inter-Governmental Affairs.
Hon. William Thompson Sr. (Ret.) is a former New York state senator. He was an associate justice of the Appellate Division, Second Department, and a New York State Supreme Court Justice in Kings County.
Hon. John Walsh (Ret.) recently retired from the New York State Supreme Court Justice in Kings County. He served in the New York City Police Department, rising to the rank of inspector when he served as the commanding officer of the Criminal Justice Bureau. He was appointed by the police commissioner to investigate and bring to trial 61 police corruption cases.
Laura Brevetti, Esq. is currently a partner at K&L Gates, LLP. Her practice areas include government enforcement, white-collar criminal defense, internal corporate investigations, FCPA matters and complex commercial trial litigation. She was an assistant United States attorney for the Eastern District of New York’s Organized Crime Strike Force.
Roderick C. Lankler is a partner emeritus in the law firm of Lankler Siffert & Wohl, LLP. Lankler was the New York State special prosecutor for the investigation of corruption in the New York City Criminal Justice System.
Hon. Barbara S. Jones (Ret.) was a judge in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York for 16 years. Prior to her nomination to the bench in 1995, Judge Jones was the chief assistant to Robert M. Morgenthau, former district attorney of New York County.
Hon. Joseph Bellacosa (Ret.) served for 14 years as an associate judge of the New York State Court of Appeals and the former dean at St. John’s Law School.
Susan Herman, Esq. is an associate professor, Department of Criminal Justice and Security, at Pace University. She was the executive director of the National Center for Victims of Crime in Washington, D.C.
Steven M. Cohen, Esq. is currently a partner at Zuckerman Spaeder LLP. He served as secretary to New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, in addition to serving as Cuomo’s chief of staff in the state Attorney General’s Office.
Bruce Green is the Louis Stein Professor of Law at Fordaham University School of Law. He was a law clerk for U.S. Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall and was an Assistant United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York.
Telesforo (Ted) Del Valle, Jr. is a criminal defense attorney who has been practicing in the Federal and State courts for thirty years. He is past President of the Hispanic National Bar Association for the New York region, former president of the Puerto Rican Bar Association and vice president of the New York State Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers.