A Day In The Life
Bringing Justice to the Innocent in the Wrongful Conviction Unit
Thomas has seen the problematic side of suspect identification and conviction for years. Starting with his career as a detective investigator for the NYPD, he interviewed arrestees and collecting fingerprints. Now, Thomas fights for the individuals behind bars who should have never landed there in the first place: the wrongfully convicted.
There are so many more in prison with no voice.
Thomas and his team form a lean unit. Alongside Supervising Attorney Elizabeth Felber and Paralegal Alfonzo Riley, the trio work tirelessly to bring justice to the innocent who have found themselves the victims of false identification. As a team, they are the only New York City public defender that handles trial, appellate and post-conviction cases for clients accused of criminal conduct. Every day, they receive letters from inmates in New York City prisons seeking help in having their truth heard. Many of these prisoners have spent decades in law libraries, writing to any lawyer that would listen to their pleas of innocence.
We always say they’re so quick to slap the handcuffs on someone and it’s so hard to get them to unlock them.
Thomas and his team know that they are fighting a system that is often stacked against their clients. For instance, a serious issue that Thomas and his team encounter is the lack of videotape documenting confessions or the identification procedures. Instead, whatever the NYPD or the witnesses said was the truth was considered truth. But, as Thomas and his team point out, witnesses regularly confuse individuals or make a mistake. In a recent case, Thomas helped free three young men who had been charged with robbery. Although they had been identified by witnesses, Thomas did some investigating. When he reviewed video evidence from the day, he found that the young men were “doing what they had said they were doing – eating sandwiches and playing football in front of the building.” It is victories like these that fuel Thomas and his colleagues. The three work hard to bring justice to the voiceless