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Handling Wrongful Convictions in New York

Total Credits
2.5 - 3.2
CDs/DVDs Only
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The Court of Claims Act § 8-b, also known as the New York State Unjust Conviction and Imprisonment Act, allows those who have been wrongfully convicted to seek compensation from the State if they have served all or part of their sentence. In addition, many people who have been wrongfully convicted are also able to seek compensation under federal law.

Our panel of experts will discuss the many aspects of litigating an unjust conviction case in New York and a companion case in federal court, including:

  • how to bring an unjust conviction claim in NY
  • the history and general elements of a claim under both NYS § 8-b and federal § 1983
  • pleading requirements
  • timing issues
  • discovery issues
  • evaluation of damages

Lecturer Bios

Joel B. Rudin, Esq.

Joel B. Rudin is a leading criminal defense and civil rights lawyer and a principal in the firm. He is a recipient of the New York State Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers’ Justice Thurgood S. Marshall Award for Outstanding Criminal Defense Practitioner in New York State.

Mr. Rudin’s diverse practice includes state and federal criminal trials, appeals, and post-conviction motions, and civil rights lawsuits for police misconduct and wrongful convictions.

He has won more than a dozen settlements exceeding $2 million for wrongful convictions, including the two largest total settlements in New York City: $15.45 million in the William Vasquez case and $13 million in the Jabbar Collins case. He has focused on lawsuits seeking to recover damages for clients injured by prosecutorial misconduct, and has been uniquely successful in holding the City of New York liable for the unlawful policies of local District Attorneys in failing to discipline prosecutors who violate criminal defendants’ rights by suppressing exculpatory evidence and engaging in other forms of misconduct.

In the Jabbar Collins case, in the course of overturning his client’s false conviction for murder and recovering $13 million in damages, he uncovered evidence of systemic misconduct in the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office under Charles J. Hynes and helped bring about Hynes’ defeat and the election of the reform D.A., Kenneth Thompson.

Mr. Rudin briefed and argued in the United States Supreme Court a leading federal criminal case limiting the authority of federal magistrate judges, Gomez v. United States. He has successfully handled numerous other state and federal criminal appeals, as well as collateral attacks on criminal convictions -- many of these cases have involved suppression of exculpatory evidence by prosecutors.

In his criminal trial practice, he has won acquittals or dismissals in numerous murder, sexual offense, police corruption, and white collar criminal cases. Most recently, in the Rhian Taylor case, he obtained a reversal in the New York Court of Appeals of his client’s murder conviction, and then won his complete acquittal in a three-week trial in Queens County.

Mr. Rudin succeeded in freeing four innocent defendants who had been wrongfully convicted in the notorious Bronx Day Care Center sexual abuse cases of the 1980s. One client was a prominent Yonkers minister and civil rights leader, the Rev. Nathaniel T. Grady, Sr., who had spent 10 years in prison before Mr. Rudin won his federal habeas petition and obtained the dismissal of all charges. Mr. Rudin won the freedom of Alberto Ramos, who had spent seven years in prison on a false child rape conviction, by showing that prosecutors had withheld exculpatory evidence proving Mr. Ramos's innocence, and then recovered a $5 million civil settlement for Mr. Ramos in 2003, at the time the largest such settlement ever in New York.

Mr. Rudin has authored several “amicus” briefs filed in the United States Supreme Court on cutting edge criminal defense and civil rights issues for the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (“NACDL”). He is vice chair of that organization’s amicus committee for the Second Circuit (New York and Connecticut), is a member of the organization’s national Discovery Reform Task Force, testified about wrongful convictions and prosecutorial misconduct before the New York State Bar Association's Task Force on Wrongful Convictions, and is active on that association’s Wrongful Convictions Committee. He has lectured at New York University, Fordham, and Brooklyn Law Schools, the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism, the New York City Bar Association, and the Practicing Law Institute, on civil rights and criminal law issues.

Mr. Rudin is a graduate of Cornell University (1974) and New York University School of Law (1978. He is admitted to practice in the United States Supreme Court, numerous federal courts of appeal and district courts, and all courts in New York State.

Irving Cohen, Esq.

Irving Cohen is a nationally recognized litigation attorney. From his early experience handling high level criminal cases, Mr. Cohen's practice expanded into many areas of civil litigation. Most notably, part of Mr. Cohen's practice today involves the representation of those who, although factually innocent, were unjustly convicted and spent years in prison without cause. Mr. Cohen has been successful in obtaining substantial money damages for these clients, such as $2.6 million in his latest case. Indeed, Mr. Cohen has represented more claimants than any other single attorney pursuant to New York State's Unjust Conviction and Imprisonment Act. At the same time, he continues his well-known criminal defense practice in both the state and federal courts, and his representation of clients and corporations in major civil litigation.

Julia P. Kuan, Esq.

Julia P. Kuan, Esq. earned a Bachelors Degree from New York University in 1988 and a Law Degree from New York University School of Law in 1991. Ms. Kuan spent the first half of her career devoted to the practice of criminal defense, working at the Legal Aid Society, Office of the Appellate Defender and The Bronx Defenders. At those non-profit organizations, Ms. Kuan tried countless jury and bench trials and served as appellate Counsel, arguing cases before the Appellate Division and the highest Court in the State of New York. At the Bronx Defenders, she held the position of Supervising Attorney and trained and directed a team of attorneys and support staff, while still carrying a significant felony case load. Ms. Kuan believes that early and aggressive investigation, along with a hands-on approach during all phases of litigation, is the key to her success in obtaining favorable dispositions, successes at trial, and in post-conviction litigation. Since founding Romano & Kuan, Ms. Kuan has used her considerable experience in representing clients in criminal, civil rights, and personal injury actions in both New York state and federal courts. She has obtained millions of dollars in settlements and verdicts on behalf of her clients in civil rights and personal injury actions. See Notable Cases or Press for more details. Ms. Kuan is also an adjunct law professor teaching criminal law at CUNY School of Law. She is conversant in Mandarin. To contact Ms. Kuan directly, please email her at

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