By Charisma L. Miller, Esq.
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes once again finds himself warding off legal challenges of illegal conduct in his office’s investigation and prosecution of cases. The majority of these challenges stem from the $150 million civil lawsuit brought by Jabbar Collins, who was released from prison in 2010 after spending 16 years behind bars for a robbery/murder he did not commit.
In court papers filed last week, a former investigator revealed in a sworn deposition that, under Hynes’ guidance, law enforcement officials from the DA’s Office held witnesses in hotel rooms against their will and without judicial intervention. The filing also revealed that Hynes’ prosecutors used forged, falsely "sworn" applications to obtain warrants to arrest and detain individuals who were merely prospective witnesses.
In his complaint, Collins alleged that prosecuting attorney Michael Vecchione threatened a witness with “prosecution, imprisonment, and bodily harm unless he agreed to stand by his … statement accusing Collins of the robbery and shooting.” Alleging that “Hynes took no disciplinary action against Vecchione,” after the acts of misconduct were revealed, Collins asserts that the DA and by virtue the New York City, ratified “Vecchione’s illicit tactics.”
Brooklyn Federal Judge Frederic Block found it plausible that “Hynes’ response — or lack thereof — to misconduct by Vecchione ... [indicates] that Hynes was so deliberately indifferent to the underhanded tactics that his subordinates employed as to effectively encourage them to do so.”
Following these revelations, Ken Thompson, candidate for Brooklyn DA, issued a letter to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch calling for an investigation into the interrogation and detention practices of the Kings County District Attorney’s Office under D.A. Charles Hynes. “Only through an independent, external investigation, can the public be satisfied that District Attorney Hynes will be held accountable for any violations of the law, and that any ongoing illegal practices will be stopped,” Thompson wrote in his letter.
“We can't have another Guantanamo on the Hudson. This is America and D.A. Hynes must be held accountable for allegedly overseeing a regime of unlawful interrogation and detention practices that have no place in civilized society,” said Thompson.
"When dealing with material witnesses, we never violated the letter or the spirit of the law by coercing or threatening anyone or holding anyone against their will in a hotel room without judicial intervention," George Arzt, spokesman for Hynes' re-election campaign told the Brooklyn Daily Eagle.
"Mr. Rudin's hyperbolic characterizations of various alleged practices in the Brooklyn DA's Office are irresponsible and absurd. Our court papers fully address the legal issues," Arthur Larkin, lawyer with the New York City Law Department, told the Brooklyn Daily Eagle.