Bronx Prosecutor Bashed and Barred from Courtroom for Misconduct
NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
Sunday, April 6, 2014
An assistant district attorney was verbally berated and banished from a Bronx judge’s courtroom after failing to reveal evidence that would have freed a man held at Rikers Island on bogus rape charges, The News has learned.
The prosecutorial faux pas has raised questions about the integrity of the Bronx District Attorney’s office, multiple courthouse sources told the Daily News last week.
“To my mind, this is an utter and complete disgrace — not just for you, but for your office in general,” Bronx Criminal Court Judge John Wilson told Bronx assistant district attorney Megan Teesdale before dismissing the case on March 21.
To my mind, this is an utter and complete disgrace, not just for you, but for your office in general. Disgrace.
The defendant, Segundo Marquez, had been held at Rikers Island for more than eight months awaiting trial on reduced misdemeanor rape charges stemming from a 2010 incident.
Teesdale, who has worked for Bronx District Attorney Robert Johnson since 2012, failed to inform the court that Marquez’s accuser, who testified at trial that she had been raped, initially told an NYPD sergeant that the sex was consensual.
The act of withholding evidence favorable to the defense is known as a Brady violation after a 1963 Supreme Court ruling.
The two week-long trial had reached closing arguments when one of Teesdale’s supervisors informed the judge about a note on the case file referring to the contradictory testimony.
“The excuse you offer, passing the file back and forth, no one looking and no one knowing what anything is, saddens me on one level and makes me sick on another,” Wilson said as he chastised Teesdale before the court. “You’re going to leave this room, and you’re never going to come back.”
Wilson, who worked as a prosecutor for Johnson’s office before becoming a judge, added that he had, “always been very proud of that association, until today.”
This is the kind of thing that should lead to an investigation of the whole office.
A Bronx District Attorney spokesman did not say whether Teesdale would be reprimanded for the misstep. Judge Wilson, however, does have the authority to bar Teesdale from entering his court or trying cases before him.
“When it was discovered we immediately brought it to the court’s attention and moved to dismiss the charges,” said spokesman Steven Reed. “We believed we would not be able to meet our burden of proof beyond a reasonable doubt.”
But defense attorneys in the Bronx say the slip up is a common ploy used by prosecutors to get convictions.
“This situation, while egregious, reflects a larger problem endemic to our criminal justice system,” said Segundo’s attorney, Robyn Mar of the Bronx Defenders.
Brady violations often go unpunished within city District Attorney’s offices, according to lawyer Joel Rudin.
“For something like this to happen shows they have a rotten system and it starts at the top,” Rudin said. “This is the kind of thing that should lead to an investigation of the whole office.”