Judge in Jesse Friedman’s Innocence Case Should Recuse Herself

Judge Teresa Corrigan, who practiced law with Nassau District Attorney Kathleen Rice when they were colleagues in the Brooklyn DA’s office, and was later hired by Rice when Rice was elected Nassau DA in 2006, has been asked to recuse herself as presiding judge in Jesse Friedman’s case.

Judge Teresa Corrigan has been a protégé of DA Rice since the two practiced law together in the Brooklyn DA’s office over two decades ago, and Corrigan has been an ‘insider’ in DA Kathleen Rice’s office. The judge was handpicked by Rice in 2006 as an Assistant DA, and then, it is believed she was  personally recommended to a judgeship by DA Rice in 2012.

According to the motion to recuse, “The black-letter law of 22 NYCRR 100.3(E)(1)(b)(ii) is unambiguous and mandatory: a judge shall disqualify herself in a proceeding in which ‘a lawyer with whom the judge previously practiced law served during such association as a lawyer concerning the matter.’”

The basis of this motion, and the fundamental issue that suggests to any even casual observer that the judge’s impartiality might reasonably be questioned, is that she is an ‘insider’ rather than an “outsider. For six of the last eight years, Judge Corrigan was employed by DA Rice as a top Assistant District Attorney in the same office in which Friedman was originally prosecuted. During those years, the DA’s office assiduously opposed all efforts by Friedman and his supporters to have the case reviewed or evidence disclosed.

According to state law governing judicial impartiality (NY Code of Regs, section> 100.3(E)): “A judge shall disqualify himself or herself in a proceeding in which the judge’s impartiality might reasonably be questioned, including but not limited to instances where: the judge has a personal bias or prejudice concerning a party; or the judge has personal knowledge of disputed evidentiary facts concerning the proceeding;”

There should be no question of judicial impartiality in reviewing the evidence in Jesse Friedman’s motion seeking to overturn his conviction. From the moment the police began the harsh and unrelenting questioning of scores of young children who attended computer classes in the Friedman home in the late 1980s, the ability for Jesse Friedman to have a fair hearing of the evidence was compromised. As he appeared before a judge in 1989, who stated that she was “convinced of his guilt” without hearing any evidence at trial, and who told his attorney “if convicted she would sentence Jesse Friedman to consecutive prison terms,” the constitutional requirement for unbiased review of the facts was forever abrogated.

Today, Friedman seeks a fair and impartial hearing of the facts in his case. That can only be accomplished in an evidentiary hearing where evidence can be presented before an unbiased judge, where Friedman has access to the investigatory files, and where eyewitnesses can be questioned under oath.

Full press release and motion also available on www.freejesse.net

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