An Open Letter To District Attorney Janet DiFiore
I would like to take this opportunity to applaud the action taken by you, as Westchester District Attorney, when
approached by Barry Scheck, and the Innocence Project, in June of this year, on behalf of Jeffrey Deskovic, a young man who was languishing in state prison for more than fifteen years for crimes he never committed.
Having said that, I would now like to call upon you, in light of Mr. Deskovic’s release, after wrongfully spending
half of his life behind bars, to please take under serious consideration the possibility of replicating a program which Queens County DA Richard Brown has employed for many years. Won’t you kindly consider organizing a special investigative unit within your office, perhaps three, or four experienced investigators, whose sole responsibility will be to “Investigate Serious Claims Of Innocence.”
This unit would be separate, and distinct from your present Investigations Unit of some 45, or so, individuals, as
I understand it. Ideally, such a unit would be staffed with mature, highly experienced, former detectives, capable of shifting gears, in an attempt to run down leads and reliable information, presented by defense attorneys willing to put their reputation on the line. Attorneys wishing to make a serious claim of innocence on behalf of their client, supported by reasonable evidence, would be required to guarantee the full cooperation of witnesses and the accused.
Having taken the action you elected to in the Deskovic case, you have demonstrated, unlike your predecessor, a
willingness to accept not only the proposition that people can be mistaken, even prosecutors, from time to time, but also a willingness to fulfill the mandate of your position as District Attorney, “To prosecute the guilty, and protect the innocent.”
While we have not always found ourselves on the same side of every issue, I am, nevertheless, very confident
that you will immediately recognize the multiple benefits to your Office, to the administration of justice within our
County’s courts, and, most importantly, to the lives of the People who have entrusted you with the responsibility of protecting them and their families. Jeffrey Deskovic might have been your son, or one of mine.
In recent years, with unimagined advances in forensic technology, we have reached a point in the field of criminal
investigation that will no longer tolerate imprecise or incomplete inquiry. Such an approach will surely come
to suggest, at best, a lack of professionalism, at worst, possible prosecutorial misconduct. No law enforcement professional should ever want to go forward with a prosecution that could have been avoided based upon solid contradictory evidence. Clearly, the formation of such a unit would be a Win-Win-Win situation, for everyone, and would distinguish you amongst those who have occupied the DA’s Office.