Thursday, September 3, 2009
The Court Report
By Richard Blassberg
Decision By Federal District Judge Kenneth M. Karas
Illustrates Need To Enact Federal Legislation To Curtail
Prosecutorial Misconduct And Wrongful Conviction
Most readers of The Guardian, indeed, most news-conscious Westchester residents, are by now quite familiar with the outrageous and unlawful
treatment of a young, babyfaced, 16-year-old Peekskill schoolboy, Jeffrey Deskovic, received at the hands of the Peekskill Police, the Westchester District Attorney’s Office, and Medical Examiner’s Office, upon the brutal rape and murder of one of his high school classmates, 15-year-old Angela Correa.
Deskovic, who was maliciously and cynically robbed of 17 years of his youth and young adulthood by mindless, wretched individuals masquerading
as public servants, can never be adequately compensated for all that has been taken both from him and from his loved ones, is nevertheless seeking some nancial award which may help ease the pain, and the developmental and experiential gaps in his life with which he will likely continue to struggle so long as he lives.
Toward that end, since emerging from prison, he has been engaged in a civil rights lawsuit, principally a Section 1983 suit against the agencies and individuals whose deliberate and criminal conduct ruthlessly stole so much of his youth and promise. Amazingly, this young man who emerged from State Prison three years ago, did so without a trace of bitterness or anger, but rather an abiding commitment to working hard to prevent others from undergoing the nightmare of prosecutorial misconduct and wrongful conviction. He has been a tireless advocate, writing and speaking out for legislation to prevent the kind of tyrannical and heinous conduct by state actors under the Color of Law that can best be described as “man’s in-
humanity to man.”
The subject of this Court Report is the action taken by Judge Kenneth M. Karas with respect to a Motion to Dismiss the charges against former
Westchester Assistant District Attorney George Bolen, the chief prosecutor of Jeffrey Deskovic some 20 years ago, for a rape and murder he had
every reason to realize the youngster was totally innocent of.
One would hope that the penultimate nature of the horrific assault on justice that was perpetrated under the supervision and self-serving evil of ADA George Bolen might inspire all engaged in its discovery and reconciliation to carefully consider the global implications of their judgments
and actions particularly with respect to those who have gone to their execution under similar, unthinkable circumstances, and, most importantly, those who may still.
The rape and murder of Angela Correa, a girl he hardly knew, except by sight, on November 17, 1989, would prove to be a tragedy of defining
significance for a 16-year-old school-mate who would quickly become the target of a malicious and mindless campaign to produce a believable “monster” to satisfy the calls for a suspect, anyone who, once taken into custody, would calm the fears of a city consisting of fewer than 7,000 households.
Judge Karas would seem early on to be emphasizing the unlawful aspects of the Peekskill Police Department’s conduct with respect to Deskovic in the rst seven pages of his 35-page decision. Within three weeks of the crime, Detectives Tumolo, Levine, and McIntyre, without one concrete piece of evidence, were convinced that Deskovic was a “person of interest.”
Officer David Levine would, as noted by Karas, despite prior notification of the attachment of counsel, coerce the naive youngster into waiving
his right to counsel, whereupon he and his fellow Peekskill Police Officers surely, under the supervision and awareness of ADA Bolen “interrogated Deskovic on numerous other occasions.”
Judge Karas would seem to go out of his way not only to point out the unlawful activities of the Peekskill Police in their dealings with Deskovic,
but signi cantly emphasized that those same police, with respect to Deskovic’s knowing of details, falsely “represented in police reports, in conversations with prosecutors before trial, at pre-trial hearings, and a trial that these public facts were actually the product of Deskovic’s independent knowledge about the crime.”
When making detailed reference to the horrific January 25th, 1990 scenario under which Jeffrey Deskovic was unlawfully kidnapped by Tumolo,
McIntyre, and Levine while on his way to school, and brought to a virtual torture chamber in Brewster to be interrogated for some eight hours; most of that time attached to a polygraph machine, interestingly Karas initially makes no reference to the polygraph nor then-Putnam County Deputy Sheri Daniel Stephens.
Judge Karas does not fail to note Detective McIntyre’s exclusions from his police report, of any mention of threats of violence against Deskovic,
and the promise that he would “go home and receive mental health treatment” if he simply confessed, as well as Deputy Stephens’ reported false
representation that facts conveyed by Deskovic originated with him rather than the Peekskill Police Officers.”
It should be noted that the whole polygraph confession incident took place in Brewster, some 20 miles away from Peekskill, in a place totally unfamiliar to Deskovic.
Karas takes the opportunity to point out, “Plaintiffs also specifically allege that prosecutors were unaware of the bulk of the Peekskill Police
Departments’ officers’ misconduct and of other potentially exculpatory information.” One would be naive to believe that George Bolen could be, or would be, kept in the dark as to the details of how the false confession was extracted from 16-year-old Jeffrey.
There can be no question that Bolen was the engineer aboard the Runaway Train that the investigation into the rape and murder of Angela Correa
The notion that a whole raft of exculpatory information known to Officers Tumolo, Levine and McIntyre, including false representations of Deskovic’s “independent knowledge,” the fabrication of evidence, material facts regarding the circumstances surrounding the “confession,” exculpatory statements from Peekskill High School students, etc., could be concealed from George Bolen, is totally incompatible with all that this
reporter knows about the experience and cunning of that prosecutor.
Judge Karas notes “the DNA test results were returned just days after Deskovic’s indictment,” and, further, that, “the tests definitively excluded
Deskovic as the source of semen found in Angela Correa’s body”, and, also that, “microscopic hair analysis of hairs found on Angela Correa’s
body excluded Deskovic as the source of those hairs.”
What was Bolen’s Big Rush to get an indictment, knowing that DNA and hair follicle results would be coming any day, and would be rock-solid
evidence for presentation to a grand jury. The real issue was whether the FBI lab had already tipped Bolen off.
In all fairness, Karas does indicate that once Bolen was officially notified of the DNA and hair results, he thereafter, as alleged, “directed that additional investigation be done by the Peekskill Police Department, and personally conducted and personally directed further investigation to provide an explanation for the presence of another man’s semen inside Angela Correa following her rape and murder.”
Further, after revealing that Plaintiffs alleged that Bolen and Dr. Luis Roh had determined they would provide evidence that the victim
had scarring on her hymen indicating she had been sexually active, the Judge states, “Bolen knew, or should have known, that Roh [Deputy Chief
Medical Examiner for Westchester County] had no scientific basis for this conclusion, and that he had not observed the scarring he had reported
to Bolen,” without question, exposing the most egregious of George Bolen’s feats of engineering.
Nonetheless, despite his illustration of such malicious prosecutorial misconduct, by Bolen’s own design after the obtaining of a “ham sandwich indictment,” the Judge unfortunately expresses the view that all of his relevant prosecutorial misconduct was in the capacity of
The Peoples’ Advocate, and not in his investigative capacity, where only qualified immunity would be available.
In the discussion section of Judge Karas’ decision, he writes, “The Supreme Court has held that while a complaint attacked by a Rule 12(b)6
Motion To Dismiss, does not need factual allegations, a Plaintiff ’s obligation to provide the grounds of his ‘entitlement to believe’ requires more
than labels and conclusions and a formulaic rescitation of the elements of a Cause Of Action will not do.”
This reporter believes it is more than “mere speculation” that Bolen was aware of the fact that DNA testing had proved the semen and the
hairs found in and on Angela Correa, respectively, were not from Jeffrey Deskovic, fully eight months before he took him to trial with suborned,
We firmly believe that at trial Dr. Luis Roh will surely implicate Bolen and very likely tell a jury that the reason he fabricated the scarred hymen
evidence was to help Bolen go forward with his misguided, malicious prosecution of Jeffrey Deskovic. Judge Karas, in discussing absolute
immunity, indicates, “Bolen claims he should be dismissed from Plaintiff ’s actions because he is absolutely immune from Section 1983
liability for his alleged conduct.”
He then cites Burns v. Reed (1991), “Courts recognize absolute immunity for official conduct to the same extent it was recognized at Common Law.” He then informs, quoting from Malley v. Briggs (1986), “Since [Section 1983] on its face does not provide for any immunities [courts would be] going far to read into it an absolute immunity for conduct which was only accorded qualified immunity in 1871, [when the statute was enacted].” Turning to a fairly recent Second Circuit case, Shmueli v. City Of New York (2005), Karas lifts the pronouncement, “It is now well established that a State Prosecuting Attorney who acted within the scope of his duties in initiating and pursuing a criminal prosecution, is immune from civil suit for damages under Section 1983.”
Continuing, he borrows from another Second Circuit decision, Hill v. City Of New York (1995), “Extending absolute immunity to such prosecutorial misconduct insures that public prosecutors can zealously perform the prosecutorial duties of the Office [without being] compelled to work under the constant threat of legal reprisals.”
We would ask whether George Bolen was acting within the scope of his duties when he refused to acknowledge the implication of the negative DNA and hair follicle test results? And, we would further ask whether inventing a terribly defaming and demeaning lie about young victim Angela Correa was also within the scope of his duties? Finally, we would inquire whether “zealous performance” includes unlawful scheming and intentionally sending an innocent 16-year-old child to prison for life, or, whether it is really all about collecting two paychecks a month?
Surely there would be no “retaliation” to worry about if prosecutors were doing what they are supposed to be doing, and not sending innocent persons to prison while turning guilty ones free to repeat their crimes.
If absolute immunity attaches when a prosecutor is acting as “an advocate for the State,” how was George Bolen ever an advocate for the State? The People are the State; and, how is he advocating for the People when he knowingly sends one of the People to prison for a crime he knows, or should know, he is innocent of, while permitting the real perpetrator to roam free, and to kill still another innocent person? Does concocting a false story to negate the DNA evidence of an accused person’s innocence come under, “Appropriate preparation for presentation?”
We contend that George Bolen was clearly a rogue prosecutor outside his role as an Advocate For The People; and that the People did not want Bolen to intentionally strive to send an innocent 16-year-old boy, without any criminal record, to prison for a crime Bolen knew he did not commit.
Judge Karas, citing several cases, explains, “For example, absolute immunity is not available when a prosecutor advises the police whether
probable cause exists during their pre-trial investigation.” We ask, how would such advice differ from a conversation by a prosecutor with
a medical examiner, assuming such exchange was in good faith? After all, both the police and the medical examiner perform an evidence-gathering
function, the product of which must reach a particular threshhold.
When the test results came back negative, Bolen knew he had no probable cause. A forced confession from a scared, 16-year-old boy surely
could not trump DNA and hair follicle evidence that did not match him. Twenty-five pages into his decision, Judge Karas declares, “The
Court finds that even taking the Plaintiff’s allegations to be true, Bolen’s allegedly improper actions took place in the judicial phase of
the criminal process. To begin with, it is important to note that the alleged conduct that forms the basis for Plaintiff’s claims against Bolen
occurred after Deskovic’s indictment.
And, from the allegations in Plaintiff’s complaint, it is evident not only that Bolen had no reason to doubt bona fides of the indictment, but also
that he had strong reason to believe that Deskovic was guilty based on his supposed confession.”
With all due respect to the Judge; as to the fact that Bolen’s act followed Deskovic’s indictment, it is very clear that Bolen rushed into the grand jury a day or two before he knew he would have the official results and, that the case was intentionally brought to the grand jury
a few days before the DNA and hair follicle results would be officially released for the following reason:
Bolen already knew the results and knew if he officially had them, he would have to acknowledge and explain them, and likely not get his
indictment, and not be eligible for absolute immunity if caught doing what he was about to do with Dr. Roh.