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June 8, 2010

STATE BAR ASSOCIATION COMMENDS SENATE COMMITTEES FOR ADVANCING WRONGFUL CONVICTIONS LEGISLATION

Codes and Judiciary Committees Report State Bar Proposals

New York State Bar Association President Stephen P. Younger of New York (Patterson Belknap Webb & Tyler LLP) today commended the Senate Codes Committee for reporting out of committee the remaining four bills of the State Bar's six-bill package of legislation to reduce the occurrence of wrongful convictions in New York. Last week, the Senate's Codes and Judiciary Committees separately reported the other two bills.

"When a person is wrongfully convicted of a crime, not only is that person's life devastated, but the confidence and the trust that citizens place in our justice system is significantly eroded," said Younger. "To combat this injustice, the State Bar Association introduced comprehensive initiatives that would significantly reduce the number of wrongful convictions. I am pleased to see that these measures are advancing in the Legislature and I want to commend the members of the committees, as well as the legislative sponsors, for their untiring efforts in moving this critical legislation forward."

Last week, the State Bar held a news conference in Albany to announce the introduction of the package of legislation. The legislation is based upon the recommendations of the State Bar's Task Force on Wrongful Convictions created in 2008 by Past President Bernice K. Leber of New York City (Arent Fox LLP). In a report issued last year, the Task Force concluded that wrongful convictions resulted from multiple factors including identification procedures, government practices, mishandling of forensic evidence, defense practices, the use of false confessions and the improper use of jailhouse informants. The report is available on the State Bar's website at www.nysba.org/wcreport. The bills are available online at www.nysba.org/presskit.

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The 77,000-member New York State Bar Association is the official statewide organization of lawyers in New York and the largest voluntary state bar association in the nation.  Founded in 1876, NYSBA programs and activities have continuously served the public and improved the justice system for more than 130 years. www.nysba.org