ProPublica reports a “staggering array of misconduct” by Brooklyn prosecutor Michael Vecchione in connection with a homicide conviction from the 1990s. Jabbar Collins was convicted of murdering Abraham Pollack and spent the next 15 years in prison. But he eventually gained his freedom through a rare federal petition in 2010, asserting that prosecutors and police had invented, distorted and withheld evidence in his case. Collins is suing for $150 million.
ProPublica says Vecchione is a prominent example of a troubling aspect of the American criminal justice system: Prosecutors who are implicated in misconduct often seem immune from meaningful punishment. It has found that New York judges don’t routinely refer prosecutorial misconduct to state panels that handle attorney discipline, even when they overturn convictions and upbraid prosecutors for constitutional violations. The city’s district attorneys lack the will to punish their subordinates, perhaps out of fear of embarrassment. ProPublica said the pattern is much the same across the country.