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New York Man Wins $640,000 for Unjust Incarceration

The state of New York has agreed to pay $640,000 to a man who it unjustly incarcerated for five years to dismiss the lawsuit he filed after his convictions were vacated because the evidence clearly indicated that he wasn’t involved in the robbery precipitating his convictions and incarceration.

In January of 1994, several men robbed the owners of a grocery store in Brooklyn, New York. A couple of months later, John Vera, who lived in the neighborhood, was arrested after one of the owners identified him as one of the men involved in the robbery when he went into the store to buy a snack. He was tried and convicted of participating in the robbery, and he was sent to prison for six-to-eighteen years on February 6, 1995.

Vera was released from the Arthur Kill Correctional Facility on February 10, 2000 after his convictions were vacated in a habeas corpus proceeding because, after testimony from some of those who were also convicted of the robbery testified that they didn’t know him, and the victims’ testimony made it clear that he was wrongly identified as one of the robbers. The Court found that the same was clear and convincing evidence that Vera couldn’t have been one of the robbers and vacated all of Vera’s convictions. He then filed suit in state court under § 8-b of New York’s Unjust Conviction and Imprisonment Act (Act).

On May 5, 2008, Judge Alan Marin, of the New York Court of Claims at New York City found that the evidence resulting in Vera’s conviction satisfied the Act’s requirements for assigning liability to the state for his unjust convictions and incarceration. Before the Court could rule on the amount of liability the state agreed to pay Vera $640,000 to voluntarily dismiss the suit. See: Vera v. New York, Court of Claims, Case No. 102187 (2008).

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Related legal case

Vera v. New York