Firm Secures County, State Settlements Totalling $13.8 Million for Wrongfully Convicted Client

Led by Bruce Barket, Alexander Klein and John LoTurco, the firm drew widespread attention when it secured $13.8 million on behalf of a man who had been wrongfully convicted of a string of robberies in the 1980s. 

After having spent a quarter century in prison, Rodolfo Taylor’s conviction was vacated pursuant to his discovery of undisclosed Brady materials that were attendant to every civilian witness who had testified against him at trial.  The breathtaking scope of undisclosed materials includes a statement from one witness in which he identified “with no hesitation and … without a doubt” that the person who robbed him was someone else.  The same day, in fact, that other target was selected as the perpetrator by an additional eyewitness.  Despite the exculpatory nature of having two different eyewitnesses agree that the perpetrator was someone other than Mr. Taylor, these identifications were not disclosed to him or his criminal defense attorney at trial.  Incredibly, the same fate befell statements given to law enforcement two days later—where, again, two witnesses identified the perpetrator as someone other than Mr. Taylor.

As Barket, Klein and LoTurco learned during the course of the representation, the lead investigator responsible for Mr. Taylor’s arrest was motivated to clear the robberies in issue, as Suffolk County had fallen victim to a spate of gas station robberies in 1984—and blaming them on Mr. Taylor allowed him to close those files as “exceptionally cleared.”  The firm’s investigation determined that upon Mr. Taylor’s arrest the lead investigator cleared at least four other robberies based upon the premise that they were all committed by the same man.  Yet for each of these other “exceptionally cleared” robberies, all committed by the same person, Mr. Taylor had been placed in a lineup and not selected by the eyewitnesses.  This exculpatory information was, again, not disclosed to Mr. Taylor—who instead was convicted and spent a quarter century in prison for robberies he did not commit.

In the end, Suffolk County contributed $12.8 million toward settling the case with Mr. Taylor, with New York State contributing an additional $1 million.  While no amount of money could make Mr. Taylor whole for the horrific ordeal that he experienced, his settlement reflects one of the largest wrongful conviction settlement payouts in Suffolk County history.