Appellate Law Requires A Different Set Of Skills
If you have been convicted in the state or federal courts of a criminal offense, in New York or elsewhere, our firm can assist you in appealing to a higher court, reversing your conviction and obtaining your freedom. Our office, led by Joel B. Rudin, Terri S. Rosenblatt and a talented staff, has won criminal appeals at every level of the state and federal court systems, including the United States Supreme Court.
Mr. Rudin, a former journalist, is a skilled writer and oral advocate. He relays the story of his clients and what went wrong at the trial in a succinct and compelling fashion in order to persuade the judges of the appellate court to correct the injustice. He is often asked by criminal trial lawyers to handle their clients’ appeals. Mr. Rudin is vice chair of the amicus committee of the pre-eminent defense lawyer organization in the country, the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL), presenting briefs in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit in support of criminal defendants on issues of widespread applicability and importance.
A History Of Appellate Success
In the United States Supreme Court, Mr. Rudin briefed and argued Gomez v. United States , 490 U.S. 858 (1989), and Peretz v. United States , 501 U.S. 923 (1991), two of the leading Supreme Court decisions dealing with the jurisdiction and powers of federal magistrate judges to preside at federal criminal trials. In the Gomez case, Mr. Rudin won a 9-0 decision holding that magistrate judges may not preside at jury selection in federal criminal trials over the defendant’s objection. Listen to the oral argument and read the brief. 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 federal sentencing issue.
Mr. Rudin has won two landmark civil rights cases in the United States Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit. In Poventud v. City of New York, 750 F.3d 121 (2d Cir. 2014) (en banc), all 15 judges of the court, in a rare “en banc” session, ruled that a man who had spent more than eight years in prison due to an unfair conviction could sue police detectives and the city of New York for monetary damages even though he had pleaded guilty to get out of prison. In 2016, Mr. Poventud, represented by Mr. Rudin and another law firm, recovered $2.75 million in damages for Mr. Poventud.
In Zahrey v. Coffey, 221 F.3d 342 (2d Cir. 2000), Mr. Rudin established that prosecutors may be sued under federal civil rights law for manufacturing false evidence during their investigation of a criminal case, even though they have immunity for actually using the evidence later during the prosecution. Mr. Rudin then recovered $2.25 million in damages and fees for his client, a New York City police detective for whom Mr. Rudin previously had won a federal acquittal on false police corruption charges including murder, robbery and narcotics distribution.
Mr. Rudin also has successfully handled many federal criminal appeals, and also regularly submits “amicus” or “friend of the court” briefs in the United States Supreme Court and the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals for the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers in cases of broad significance to criminal defense lawyers and federal criminal defendants. In Connick v. Thompson, 131 S.Ct. 1350 (2011), Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg quoted Mr. Rudin’s brief for the NACDL in her dissenting opinion. 131 S.Ct. at 1381 n.17. In a prominent white collar case, United States v. Treacy, 639 F.3d 32 (2d Cir. 2011), Mr. Rudin’s amicus brief for the NACDL helped convince the 2nd Circuit to rule that a criminal defendant’s constitutional right to confront the witnesses against him must take precedence over a journalist’s First Amendment “privilege” to protect his sources of information.
State Appeals In New York
Mr. Rudin and his office have won numerous important victories in the New York Court of Appeals. The cases include:
- People v. Negron, 26 N.Y.3d 262 (2015) (reversing attempted murder conviction, and granting new trial, based upon misconduct by the Queens District Attorney’s Office and ineffective assistance of defense counsel)
- People v. Taylor, 26 N.Y.3d 217 (2015) (reversing murder conviction due to judicial error in handling a jury note) (Mr. Rudin, his partner Terri S. Rosenblatt and George Goltzer, of counsel to the firm, won Mr. Taylor’s acquittal at his retrial in 2017)
- People v. Syville and Council, 15 N.Y.2d 391 (2010) (establishing defendant’s right to file a late notice of appeal where his lawyer was negligent in failing to do so)
- People v. Colon, 13 N.Y.3d 343 (2009) (reversing client’s 16-year-old murder conviction based upon new evidence found by Mr. Rudin that a Manhattan prosecutor had relied on false or misleading testimony; the indictment subsequently was dismissed, and Mr. Rudin recovered $9 million in damages for the two defendants)
- People v. Bond, 95 N.Y.2d 840 (2000) (reversing a murder conviction due to the Brooklyn District Attorney’s withholding of statements by a key witness, uncovered by Mr. Rudin, that she had not seen the shooting at all)
- People v. Beauchamp, 74 N.Y.2d 639 (1989) (winning reversal of client’s conviction for child sexual abuse, and 75-year sentence, and dismissal of the indictment, because the indictment unfairly charged the defendant with vague, “continuous” sexual offenses against minors)
In the state appellate division, Mr. Rudin won the leading appellate decision in New York state, Ramos v. City of New York, 285 A.D.2d 284 (1st Dept. 2001), upholding the right of a former criminal defendant to sue a municipality (New York City) under federal civil rights law for a history of misconduct by state prosecutors in withholding evidence. Mr. Rudin had won Mr. Ramos’s freedom in a 440 hearing after showing that a Bronx prosecutor had withheld evidence proving Mr. Ramos’s innocence, and then won an appellate decision excoriating the Bronx District Attorney’s Office for its misconduct. People v. Ramos, 201 A.D.2d 78 (1st Dept. 1994). In 2003, Mr. Rudin settled Mr. Ramos’s civil rights lawsuit for $5 million. It was, at the time, the largest such settlement ever against New York City.
Our firm has won reversals of murder convictions in People v. Hausman, 285 A.D.2d 352 (1st Dept. 2001) (jury selection error; defendant acquitted at retrial handled by Mr. Rudin), People v. Fleurant, 33 A.D.3d 492 (2d Dept. 2007) (indictment dismissed based upon insufficient evidence at trial) and People v. Rosario, 127 A.D.2d 209 (1st Dept. 1987) (evidentiary error by judge and prosecutor).
Mr. Rudin handled a leading appellate division decision, People v. Sinha, 84 A.D.3d 35 (1st Dept. 2011), which holds that a prosecutor’s office (the Manhattan District Attorney) may be punished “in the interest of justice” for its inexcusably late disclosure at trial of evidence favorable to the defense ( Brady material). The court reversed part of the conviction and, as a result, substantially reduced the defendant’s sentence.