June 20, 2014

Mayor Bill de Blasio meets a campaign promise to fulfill a "moral obligation to right this injustice" — the imprisonment of 5 men convicted in the Central Park jogger case.

The settlement of $40 million represents about $1 million for per year in prison for each man. By contrast, Mayor Bloomberg had fought the civil lawsuit arguing that the men were prosecuted in good faith at the time:
In 2011, a senior corporation counsel lawyer said that the charges had been supported by “abundant probable cause, including confessions that withstood intense scrutiny, in full and fair pretrial hearings and at two lengthy public trials.”

In early 2013, the city’s Law Department echoed those views. “The case is not about whether the teens were wrongly convicted,” a department spokeswoman said. “It’s about whether prosecutors and police deliberately engaged in misconduct.”
The convictions were vacated after an investigation by the Manhattan district attorney, who "found DNA and other evidence that the woman had been raped and beaten not by the five teenagers but by another man, Matias Reyes, a convicted rapist and murderer who had confessed to acting alone in the attack."

So, on the one hand, you have de Blasio approach, which I think is that the city has a moral obligation to pay compensation, based on the years spent in prison for a crime we now feel sure these men did not do. On the other hand, you have the Bloomberg approach, which withholds compensation except where there is a violation of law giving rise to a civil claim, and that did not happen if the prosecutors behaved ethically in seeking the conviction based on the evidence they had at the time.

Choose one.
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rcocean said...

Forget it Jake, its Chinatown.

NotquiteunBuckley said...

"Choose one."

That ain't no damn choice.

TosaGuy said...

I am not automatically opposed to the de Blasio approach. The government shouldn't be immune from its mistakes. However, I do not trust de Blasio to implement his approach equally. Instead, he will decide who gets compensated from government mistakes, just as he will decide who gets to feel the full weight of the power of NYC government.

RonF said...

I find myself voting for deBlasio on this one. I accept that the State acted in good faith. I seek no sanctions against anyone involved. But these guys got screwed, big time, and the State had a hand in it.

Tell me something - if I take an action that harms my neighbor even though I did nothing illegal and there was no intent to harm them, am I liable for damages?

Amexpat said...

The de Blasio approach is correct, although a million a year for jail time seems over the top.

BDNYC said...

It's quite possible that some or all of these men were part of a mob of accomplices who helped Matias Reyes, the actual rapist. That's what the NYPD detective still believe.

C R Krieger said...

I couldn't vote because I am not sure which represents my view, which is that if there was prosecutorial misconduct $40 Million isn't enough and people (or at least one person) needs to do some jail time.  On the other hand, if it was all in good faith, then some compensation is due, but probably not $40 million total.

Regards  —  Cliff

Michael K said...

New Yorkers deserve this guy. I have absolutely no sympathy.

Freeman Hunt said...

The Bloomberg approach is illogical and would never pass in the private sector.

"We hired this company to install a new computer system and it never worked. They need to refund what we paid."
"It's true that they hired us to install a computer system and it never worked, but we tried really hard and honestly gave it our best effort, so there's no need for us to compensate them."

In Adult World no one cares about effort; it's the results that matter. You take responsibility for the good results and the bad, and the bad ones you do the best you can to correct.

Matthew Sablan said...

We have a moral obligation to people who the state robs years of their lives from, or simply maliciously slanders.

But... they confessed? Why? Did the state threaten them with worse if they didn't?

rhhardin said...

According to Linda Fairstein on Imus this morning, they did it, or near enough.

Krumhorn said...

The problem is that it is by no means certain that these guys were wrongly convicted. The doctors that treated the victim have said that all the wounds she suffered could not have been inflicted in the manner set forth in the later confession...or inflicted by just one person.

One doctor said that there were multiple hand prints on her legs indicating that she was held and immobilized while being raped. De Blasio is just another leftie zealot who is determined to hurry us along to enfeeblement and attenuation.

- Krumhorn

Freeman Hunt said...

They were 14-16 years old, so getting confessions is not particularly impressive.

Anonymous said...

What Tosa Guy said.

jimbino said...

The $40 million is justified in that it gives incentive for the state to change its so-called "ethics" rules for prosecutors.

Bart Torvik said...

"But... they confessed? Why? Did the state threaten them with worse if they didn't?"

It's a good question. But they were like 14 / 15 years old, and were interrogated for many hours. I recommend you check out the documentary, Central Park Five -- the interrogations were videotaped, and it's all rather chilling. It seems that if you keep someone in a room long enough, he'll say pretty much anything to get out of it.

Widmerpool said...

To say the least, Linda Fairstein is far from a dispassionate observer.

holdfast said...

Seems like a lot of $$. I'd be interested in some actuarial work on their lost opportunities and salaries.

Even if they were tangentially involved, that's not how the D.A. charged it. Close shouldn't count for this sort of thing.

Ralph Hyatt said...

"But... they confessed? Why? Did the state threaten them with worse if they didn't?"

Most likely. The police are pretty good at getting people to confess, even to things they didn't do. That's one of the reasons that they keep some details concerning the crime confidential, so that they can see if the suspect has knowledge of it.

And sometimes they feed that knowledge to people they think are guilty and use various tactics to get them to confess to something they didn't actually do.


Birkel said...

If there is prosecutorial malfeasance, then prosecutors should be personally liable first, then the political entity.

If there was no impropriety, then the city should have full responsibility.

$50,000 per year seems reasonable for lost wages. Double it for pain and suffering. But still a million is a mayor treating other peoples' money recklessly.

Pettifogger said...

I am past president of my local Tea Party. I do not like Bloomberg and care for de Blasio even less. But I'm with de Blasio on this one. Society owes compensation to people who are wrongly imprisoned. That is a compelling moral requirement whether or not it is a legal one.

James Graham said...

Ken Burns convinced me the "Five" were innocent.

Reading today's WSJ I am much less certain.


William said...

Suspicion fell upon these parties because at about the same time and at about the same place they were engaged in random attacks on strangers in Central Park. I agree that there is reasonable cause to doubt their guilt, but there was reasonable cause to suspect them. The moral I would take from the story is that you shouldn't attack random strangers in Central Park because people will think the worst of you........The man who confessed was already doing life. His confession did not give him further jail time.. I can think of reasons, other than the pursuit of justice, why he might want to exonerate the other defendants, one of whom he knew in prison......I think the five should have been released and some recompense is due them. However, they don't deserve much in the way of sympathy or wealth for their bad luck in deciding to go wilding at the same time a rapist decided to attack.

Richard Dolan said...

The better way to view this problem is as a 'takings' issue, which necessarily supports the De Blasio approach.

Basically, the argument for the Bloomberg approach, focusing the inquiry on whether the prosecutor engaged in misconduct rather than the loss to the unjustly convicted individual, treats the award of damages as a deterrent to future misconduct. Deterrence is a classic objective of tort liability, but hardly the only one. In the context of Govt actions, however, it is unrealistic. The reason is that no Governmental actor has any personal stake in avoiding such financial liability -- it's all paid for by the Govt. Thus the supposed deterrent effect of potential liability doesn't actually deter any particular individual working for the Govt from engaging in the type of misconduct at issue.

Quite apart from those considerations, the proper focus is on what the Govt unfairly took from the victim here -- to wit, a large part of his life. If the Govt had taken, say, his house or his car, no one would doubt that reasonable compensation was due. Here, the Govt unfairly deprived the victim of much more, all as part of a (failed) effort to ensure public safety. It is, of course, true that no system of justice is perfect, and that there will always be miscarriages of justice resulting in wrongly convicted victims. Those are the unavoidable consequences of having a government, and the costs of such losses should be borne by the system that makes them inevitable. We permit the Govt to take private property in the interest of the greater good, but require compensation when it does. Where as in these cases the Govt takes someone's liberty (or their life) in a misguided effort to achieve a different public good, compensation is similarly due when that loss cannot fairly be attributed to the person's criminal conduct. The analogy to classic 'takings' cases is not perfect, but the sense of fairness requiring compensation in both situations is very much the same.

Unfortunately, unless a particular jurisdiction has adopted a specific statute to compensate the victims of a miscarriage of justice, the law generally requires proof of Govt misconduct before compensation is paid. As a matter of public policy, that strikes me as simply compounding the first miscarriage of justice.

Spiros Pappas said...

These young men confessed to this crime without being abused or "deprived of their civil rights." A simple-minded ruse was able to confuse these teenage boys to the point that they believed that confessing was in their best interest and in the worst interests of their friends. Not much racism here. If anything, these young men were opportunistic jerks. You can't further stress police officers. The police shouldn't be forced to deal with all potential suspects as if they were dealing with the mentally retarded. It's not fair, these men confessed.

Left Bank of the Charles said...

$40 million sounds like a lot, but it's equivalent to $9.3 million plus 6% interest for 25 years.

tim maguire said...

On paper, the de Blasio approach is correct. If society mistakenly imprisons an innocent, society should make some effort to help that innocent reconstruct a life and, to the extent possible, reclaim the lost opportunities.

However, a million a year seems preposterous. How many people would happily spend a few years in jail for a million per year? Most, I'm willing to bet.

Tank said...

Freeman Hunt said...

They were 14-16 years old, so getting confessions is not particularly impressive.

Maybe, but it's interesting that all five individually confessed. You'd think that at least one out of five would have said, "No way I'm confessing to a rape/murder I did not commit." Why did all five confess so quickly?

I'm aware that it is not that unusual for someone to confess to a crime they did not commit. Yes, five out of five seems ... unlikely!?!

The Crack Emcee said...

Bloomberg's running ahead at 54% as of this posting.

Meanwhile, the comments seem to run with deBlasio.

RonF's comment is revealing:

"I find myself voting for deBlasio on this one. I accept that the State acted in good faith. I seek no sanctions against anyone involved. But these guys got screwed, big time, and the State had a hand in it."

Welcome To The Case For Reparations, guys.

mccullough said...

Now we know why Bloomberg is rich and DeBlasio isn't.

Richard Dolan said...

"I find myself voting for deBlasio on this one. I accept that the State acted in good faith. I seek no sanctions against anyone involved. But these guys got screwed, big time, and the State had a hand in it."

"Welcome To The Case For Reparations, guys."

The difference is that, with unjustly convicted individuals, the Govt is compensating the person whom it directly made a victim. Reparations are class-based (at best), the defined class includes many members who are new arrivals and in all events is far removed in time from the Govt action at issue, and there is no direct connection between state action and an individual victim.

Levi Starks said...

There's a reason Bloomberg has all the money

Michael said...

Not going to be reparations, Crack. They have your vote, already bought and paid for. No need to bother with anything other than the typical lip service toward the black community, mainly in the form of calling Republicans racists. The Dems are not going to pay twice when they are just now grooming the Latin vote. The Latins, by the way, do not seem to get along that well with the black community and vice versa. Another reason there will be no reparations. No votes in favor from the Hispanics, you can bank that.

So, just a simple matter of hard political realities. No reparations. Sorry. No need. They already have your vote. 97% of it. Enough. Not paying twice.

Don't believe? Take your rant over to a lefty blog and see how it goes.

President-Mom-Jeans said...

Crack, you are never going to get reparations, and most likely will spend the rest of your life in your current poverty.

Have a super day begging for money, sport.

MikeDC said...

I don't think the prosecutors behaved ethically, and I don't see how anyone else could either.

As with the post from earlier, this is one of those "unspoken" things. If we faced the reality of how commonplace prosecutorial misconduct was, we'd not be able to ignore it. So we don't.

The Crack Emcee said...

Richard Dolan,

"Reparations are,...far removed in time from the Govt action at issue, and there is no direct connection between state action and an individual victim."

What are you talking about? Oooohhh, I forgot "How To Tell Who Hasn't Read The New 'Atlantic' Cover Story" on Reparation - it was a topic on NPR. Here they are, in case you can't be bothered to read about what you speak on, again:

1. They talk a lot about slavery.
2. They talk about the logistics of reparations.
3. They talk about affirmative action or welfare.

I think you fell into category 1 and 2 - in a single sentence - so, yeah.

Nice talking, I guess.

Freeman Hunt said...

I'm aware that it is not that unusual for someone to confess to a crime they did not commit. Yes, five out of five seems ... unlikely!?!

"You know your friends already talked. You know that, right? They're saying it was your idea. They're saying you planned the whole thing. You know we've got evidence for [bunch of additional charges.] You know what we do with sweet-faced little boys who don't play ball? You know how bad some of those prison freaks would like to see your sweet face? It's all over. We've got all we need. But you're just a kid, if you own up, we can help you, get you special treatment and a shorter sentence, maybe work something out. If not, you're going to get your cherry popped by every thug pervert who's gone up in the great state of New York."

And so on plus sleep deprivation.

It would be easy to get all five confessions.

The Crack Emcee said...


"Not going to be reparations, Crack."

White guys are fortunetellers:

There will always be slavery - heard that.

There will always be Jim Crow - heard that.

Blacks will always be seen as inferior - heard that.

No black will ever be president - heard that.

Blacks won't get reparations - I hear ya,…

The Crack Emcee said...


"Crack, you are never going to get reparations, and most likely will spend the rest of your life in your current poverty.

Have a super day begging for money, sport."

Yep, here I am, cup-in-hand. BTW, for those who are kind enough to be interested, you can donate to my well-being, as I beat these racist jackets about the head for sport, here.

I am typing this with a sprained/broken finger on one hand, and my big event of the day is going to pick up my car - my last item of value - from storage after it was totaled by someone driving a U-Haul. I won my settlement, at least - the bastards were responsible and tried to stick me for storage costs - so there's that. I could use any cash. Thanks.

And Thanks to you, too, President-Mom-Jeans:

I never would've asked, here, without you,...

ken in sc said...

I think cops know lots of criminals that they can't pin anything on. So, if they find something they can pin on one of them, even if it is not 100% righteous,they will. They figure it makes up for all the times the crooks got away with murder.

damikesc said...

It's not like the lack of other DNA or that others were involved were hidden during the trial. The prosecutors openly said they were others who weren't caught. These five beasts are guilty as Hell. Keep in mind, The Hurricane led to an insane belief that Carter was innocent of his crimes.

Hyphenated American said...

Anyone who is not upset about this decision, read this article on the topic.


Hyphenated American said...

"White guys are fortunetellers:

There will always be slavery - heard that."

Crack "forgets" that it's the white people who destroyed slavery all over the world.

And he does not want to talk about the people who enslaved his ancestors and sold them to America. Why is that?

P.S. Previously he told me that he was bored discussing history. Apparently, when facts go against him, he gets bored.

Michael said...


No, you are missing the point. The Democrats are in charge of things like reparations and they are not going to bring up this issue. They have, as you frequently remind us, 97% of the black vote. They are not going to buy that vote twice. Plus, it would piss off the Latinos who are going to be a bigger voting block in short order.

Remember, slavery was ended at the cost of many thousands of lives and a destroyed economy. Ending Jim Crow was free. Electing Obama was free. So each is not the same as the other.

No reparations.

I happen to be in favor of debating the subject nationally and would favor the GOP urging passage of the Conyers bill for televised hearings as soon as possible. I believe you would be disappointed in the outcome. Financially that is.

Drago said...

Crack: "There will always be slavery - heard that."

Yes, but you already told us that you don't care about that.

At all.

Not in the slightest.

Hits too close to home for your black african muslim pals.

So do carry on.

Why don't you ask again why you should care about black african girls being kidnapped, raped and sold into slavery, today, this very day?

It was quite illustrative.

Drago said...

Michael: "The Latins, by the way, do not seem to get along that well with the black community and vice versa."

This is a sad but real truth.

The latinos in areas all over the country, but especially in LA, are driving blacks out of neighborhoods by violence/force.

Crack will pretend this is not true.

He has to.

It's one of several key "house of cards" pillars he's built up.

PB Reader said...

The men may be owed compensation, but from whom? The responsible party is not always the closest one with the biggest pockets.

Geoff Matthews said...

How does the lack of DNA exonerate these boys?
They found grass stains on one of the boy's underwear, the boys confessed with their parents in the interrogation room, and the state never claimed that they had biological evidence.

Harold said...

You may be sure these men had nothing to do with the central Park rape. But those who have looked closest at ALL the evidence aren't nearly as sure as you.

Jupiter said...

You forgot the "Throw the dirtbag rapists back in jail, and indict the politically correct son-of-a-bitch who let them out" option.

Jeffrey said...

>>>I am past president of my local Tea Party. I do not like Bloomberg and care for de Blasio even less. But I'm with de Blasio on this one. Society owes compensation to people who are wrongly imprisoned.

Yup, that's where I am too. I think de Blasio is working out as a terrible mayor for NYC, but you know what? On this issue, he's right. For the exact reasons you've stated.

Kirk Parker said...


No kidding it's easy, under that setup.

That's why I'm a huge proponent of the idea of reciprocity: NOTHING should be a crime if you do it to a government agent, if it's not a crime in the reverse direction also. It should be just as much a case of perjury if the investigator lies to you as it is for you to lie to him.

Furthermore, it's routine to separate arrested suspects so they don't coordinate their stories... but why shouldn't the investigators have the same restrictions placed on them? Just another example of the overwhelming power of the state brought against the solitary individual...

President-Mom-Jeans said...

A sprained finger now Crack?

Another ailment to go with your facial rash?

I'm sure your E-begging website is just rolling in the reparations with that sob story.

Perhaps you should spend less time ranting against whitey and use your time to seek productive employment.

Annie said...

Neither. The five were guilty.

damikesc said...

There will always be slavery - heard that.

Slavery is still quite active in Africa.

So, yes, we STILL have slavery.

You just don't mind blacks owning other blacks.

And I don't care if the rapists are set free. I don't intend to set foot in the shithole that is NYC so it won't be my wife getting raped by animals in Central Park.

Chuck said...

A journalist might look at the $40 million number, and do a bit of quick math to come up with something like "$1 million for each year of imprisonment for each of the plaintiffs."

That is not how any practicing lawyer would look at it. Any real lawyer looks at $40 million and does a quick mental calculation of 1/3 of that amount. It's the contingency fee for the plaintiffs' lawyers.

$13 million. That's the haul for the plaintiff lawyers.

Anonymous said...

Why aren't the corrupt prosectors Linda Fairstein and Elizabeth Lederer held criminally and financially accountable for these wrongful convictions. They among others, should seriously spend the same amount of time in prison if not longer.

Incredibly unjust that these people who gave false testimony, coerced confessions, and furthered careers on innocent victims will never be held accountable.

However, its a step in the right it's great the Central Park 5 got 40 mil, even though it doesn't take away time spent being abused/raped in prison / and almost on death row (if Donald Trump had is way...) for crimes not committed and prosecutorial misconduct (withholding forensic/DNA evidence ) - Just saying...

Freeman Hunt said...

Kirk, I think that's a good point about perjury.

Freeman Hunt said...

My response about the Bloomberg and de Blasio approaches was about these approaches in the abstract. Should wrongly convicted people be well compensated for time spent in prison? Yes.

As for this particular case, it seems questionable that the conviction was wrong. There is also the extenuating circumstance of their participation in assaults in the same area at the same time. If one is wrongly convicted because his commission of other, similar crimes in the vicinity put him under suspicion, he is not entitled to the same compensation as a truly innocent person because he had a hand in his own bad fortune.

The Crack Emcee said...

White racists are funny:

You talk about America - they talk about Africa.

You talk about Africa - they talk about America.

Just like liars the world over,...

mikee said...

The Williamson County, TX, DA who sent an innocent man to jail for 23 years got disbarred and a few days in jail where his intake and release and time there were served in non-standard manner. His victim got about $80k per year served.

New York is stupid with money, but we all knew that when DeBlasio was elected.