Today Attorney General Andrew Cuomo's office announced it has empaneled a grand jury and issued subpoenas in its investigation into the murders of Arlene and Seymour Tankleff. Since our understanding is that the grand jury can't be used to gather evidence against Marty, because he is already technically under indictment by another grand jury, and despite the airtight silence maintained by the AG's office, we take this as a sign that the first impartial investigation ever by a prosecutor into the murders is underway.
The AG also requested four more months to announce whether to dismiss the charges against Marty, to retry him, or to seek indictments against others in the murders. It's hard to argue with this request for more time. After all, the case is 20 years old and its record fills a room. So by all means, please, read everything. Be methodical so you can say you left no stone unturned. Interview witnesses, old and new, as well as experts in the fields of false confessions and wrongful convictions. Test anything testable. Follow the investigative report of the intrepid SIC to underscore the objectivity of your conclusions.
Then, as you promised, follow the evidence where it leads.
A case like this, in which something obviously has gone terribly wrong, and in which a gap in the system has been revealed, provides a tremendous opportunity for leadership. As Kathryn Grant Madigan, the president of the New York State Bar Association, wrote just today in an op-ed entitled "Videotape Interrogations, Confessions" in the Albany Times Union, "In appointing state Attorney General Andrew Cuomo to investigate the 1988 murders of Seymour and Arlene Tankleff, Gov. Eliot Spitzer has taken an important step forward in the search for justice in this much-publicized case."
As has been mentioned here before, Tankleff supporters have the highest regard for Governor Mario Cuomo, whose response to a letter from Suffolk County Judge Stuart Namm led to the original SIC investigation. Now, a generation later, Attorney General Andrew Cuomo has a historic opportunity not just to deliver justice for Arlene, Seymour and Marty Tankleff, but to guide and quicken tranformative change in our criminal justice system, and to restore faith in our system among the citizens of Suffolk County and all who are watching in New York State, across the nation and on five continents around the world. Godspeed!