The New York Times breaks the news that the New York State Investigation Commission (SIC) has begun an official investigation into Suffolk County law enforcement's handling of the Tankleff case. The Times reports the investigation began quietly over a year ago, but was kept quiet until now so as not to interfere with Marty's legal appeal. “The S.I.C. is viewing this as a serious and significant investigation. The commission is looking at how Suffolk County handled this case,” said the Times's source.
The SIC is a "sunshine" agency with no direct enforcement powers. However, the article states, "it can refer evidence of crimes to the authorities or propose a special prosecutor — something Mr. Tankleff and his supporters have urged as a means to reopen the case and pursue other suspects."
The Times reports, "The commission is taking special interest in the Tankleff case as a follow-up to its investigation of Suffolk County law enforcement in the 1980s, which found entrenched misconduct among the police and prosecutors. 'This is certainly an outgrowth from the commission’s 1989 report,” said the person associated with officials at the agency.'"
In the 1989 investigation the SIC found "misconduct and mismanagement in homicide investigations and prosecutions," including "over-reliance on confessions," and called Suffolk's confession rate "an astonishingly high figure compared to other jurisdictions, so high, in fact, that in and of itself it provokes skepticism regarding Suffolk County's use of confessions and oral admissions." The report found "[T]he Suffolk County Police Department and District Attorney's Office engaged in and permitted improper practices to occur in homicide prosecutions, including perjury, as well as grossly deficient investigative and management practices. Because of credibility problems with prosecution testimony, including police testimony, and other defects in homicide prosecutions, guilty persons may well have been allowed to go free."
According to today's article, with Marty's appeal complete, the SIC will begin field investigations, including the interviewing of potential witnesses.
“Now they will be intensifying the investigation,” the Times's source said. “They want to find out: was this issue handled appropriately or not by Suffolk County, are there still systemic problems and should anyone be held accountable for the arrest and prosecution of Mr. Tankleff.”
Meanwhile, Marty continues to prepare for a possible retrial. “There is this talk that this is going to go away with some kind of a plea, but I don’t see that happening,” Marty's lawyer Bruce Barket said. “Either the D.A. is going to dismiss it, or it’s going to trial."