Manhattan DA Stands Fast Against Demands to Review Thousands of Sex Convictions and Fire Top Prosecutor
Stephen Rex Brown, New York Daily News, June 17, 2019
D.A. Cyrus Vance has shot down a request from Public Advocate Jumaane Williams to reopen thousands of cases prosecuted by his office’s sex crime unit between 1976 and 2002.
He also refused Williams’ request to fire Elizabeth Lederer, a veteran assistant D.A. who worked on the Central Park Five case, who Vance described as “an attorney in good standing in this office.”
Vance’s letter to Williams, dated Friday, was copied to the Neighborhood Defender Service of Harlem, the Legal Aid Society and the New York County Defender Services — which had also called for review of the 26 years’ worth of cases and for Lederer’s firing.
Williams and the three lawyer groups last week asked Vance to review all the cases handled by Lederer and former assistant D.A. Linda Fairstein. Lederer was the lead prosecutor in the Central Park Five case, and Feinstein was head of the Manhattan D.A.’s Sex Crimes Unit.
Lederer and Fairstein are accused of ignoring evidence of the innocence of the Central Park Five — teenagers Korey Wise, Kevin Richardson, Raymond Santana, Antron McCray and Yusef Salaam.
After their conviction in the savage 1989 rape and assault of the Central Park jogger, the boys spent between six and 13 years in prison. They were exonerated in 2002 after DNA evidence confirmed rapist Matias Reyes’ admission that he carried out the attack.
The letter from the three lawyers’ groups told Vance “[i]t is imperative that you investigate every case that has been led by Ms. Fairstein and Ms. Lederer to ensure that your office is not responsible for even one more innocent black or brown life sitting in prison today.”