Noteworthy Cases

United States Supreme Court: The Gomez Case

Mr. Rudin has handled three cases decided on the merits in the United States Supreme Court, winning two of them and losing the third by a 5-4 vote. In Gomez v. United States, 490 U.S. 858 (1989), Mr. Rudin persuaded the Supreme Court to decide unanimously that federal courts across the country were violating federal law in permitting federal magistrates to conduct jury selection in felony trials in place of full-fledged federal district judges. Listen to the oral argument and read Mr. Rudin's brief. Two years later, in Peretz v. United States , 501 U.S. 923 (1991), Mr. Rudin nearly persuaded a majority of the judges to invalidate even more convictions where defense lawyers had consented to such a procedure. These are two of the leading Supreme Court decisions defining the jurisdiction and powers of federal magistrate judges to preside at federal criminal trials. In Rodriguez v. United States, 480 U.S. 522 (1987), Mr. Rudin's petition to the Supreme Court resulted in a per curiam decision reversing the ruling of the United States Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit on a sentencing issue.

New York Court Of Appeals: Six Criminal Reversals

Mr. Rudin and his office have won six victories in the highest court in New York state, the Court of Appeals. The first, People v. Beauchamp, 74 N.Y.2d 639 (1989), is a leading precedent prohibiting vague or "duplicitous" indictments in child sexual abuse cases that do not give adequate notice of the specific offense with which the defendant is charged. Two cases, People v. Colon, 13 N.Y.3d 343 (2009), and People v. Bond , 95 N.Y.2d 840 (2000), are important decisions reversing murder convictions because prosecutors relied on false testimony and withheld evidence favorable to the defense known as "Brady" material. In People v. Syville and Council , 15 N.Y.2d 391 (2010), Mr. Rudin's office established a criminal defendant's right to file a late notice of appeal where his lawyer was negligent in failing to do so. In People v. Taylor, 26 N.Y.3d 217 (2015), the office obtained the reversal of a murder conviction because of the trial judge's improper handling of a jury note. We also won a reversal of an attempted murder conviction in People v. Negron, 26 N.Y.3d 262 (2015), due to prosecutorial misconduct and defense attorney ineffectiveness.

The Alberto Ramos Case And 'The Bronx Five'

During the mid-1980s, a wave of hysteria swept the country about real or imagined sexual abuse of children at day care centers. When arrests occurred in the Bronx, the administration of then Mayor Edward I. Koch was thrown into an uproar and his Human Services Agency Commissioner was forced to resign. Five fully innocent defendants who went to trial were convicted and received from 25 to 90 years in prison. Mr. Rudin succeeded in overturning the convictions of four of them. All the cases were dismissed, and all the clients were freed. In the first case, involving Franklin Beauchamp, Mr. Rudin convinced the Court of Appeals to disallow a vague indictment that it was impossible to defend against. This led to three other cases being dismissed, two involving Mr. Rudin's other clients.

In the Alberto Ramos case, Mr. Rudin presented evidence at a hearing showing that the Bronx District Attorney's Office had illegally suppressed evidence at trial proving that the "crime" was made up and Mr. Ramos was completely innocent. Mr. Ramos was released after serving seven years in prison. The DA appealed, and Mr. Rudin won. See People v. Ramos, 201 A.D.2d 78 (1st Dept. 1994). Then, even though the individual prosecutor could not be sued because she had immunity, Mr. Rudin brought a groundbreaking civil rights lawsuit against New York City, alleging that the Bronx district attorney, on behalf of the city, had a policy of tolerating such misconduct and thereby encouraging it. When the city moved to dismiss the lawsuit and block discovery, Mr. Rudin won what is still the leading appellate decision in New York state holding that the city may be held liable for such misconduct and that it must provide prosecutors' personnel records showing whether or not they were disciplined. See Ramos v. City of New York , 285 A.D.2d 284 (1st Dept. 2001). Mr. Rudin settled the case in 2003 for $5 million — at the time the largest settlement ever in New York state for a wrongful conviction.

Since then, in similar lawsuits, Mr. Rudin, in 2017, won a total settlement of $15.45 million for William Vasquez, who had spent 30 years in prison on a false conviction for murder, obtained a $13 million settlement in 2014 after winning Jabbar Collins' release from prison in a federal habeas corpus action, $9 million in 2014 for Danny Colon and Anthony Ortiz after they were wrongfully convicted for murder, a $3.5 million settlement in federal court for another wrongfully convicted client, Shih-Wei Su, and, as co-counsel with another firm, obtained a federal settlement in the case of Sami Leka of $3.1 million.

The Detective Zahrey Federal Acquittal And Civil Lawsuit

Detective Zaher Zahrey had an excellent record as the first Palestinian detective in the New York City Police Department when he was the victim of a Police Department witch hunt following a highly publicized investigation into police corruption. Destroying all the government's key witnesses, Mr. Rudin, following a six-week federal criminal trial, won a complete acquittal on murder, narcotics and conspiracy charges in 10 minutes. He also won Mr. Zahrey's Police Department administrative trial. He then brought a controversial civil rights lawsuit on Det. Zahrey's behalf in federal court. In a landmark decision, the Federal Court of Appeals upheld Mr. Rudin's argument that Det. Zahrey could sue the prosecutors for manufacturing false evidence against him during the investigative phase of the case, even though, when actually using the evidence at trial, the same prosecutors had immunity from suit. See Zahrey v. Coffey , 221 F.3d 442 (2d Cir. 2000). After an eight-year battle, Mr. Rudin recovered a total of $2.25 million for Det. Zahrey in damages and attorney's fees. The judgment he recovered was not only against the city of New York but also the chief of the civil rights bureau of the Brooklyn DA's office, another supervisor who is now a county court judge in Nassau County, and two Internal Affairs detectives, one of whom is now the chief of detectives for the NYPD. This was one of the few personal judgments against prosecutors (who ordinarily have immunity) anywhere in the country.