People sometimes ask us, despite the nightmare Marty went through, isn't the fact that Marty is free proof that the system, however imperfect, works? To which we say, sure it works, as long as you have 20 years, some of the best lawyers in America, a great private detective, the New York Times, "48 Hours," a website, a blog and worldwide support.
A few elected officials in New York State have long recognized that the system is in need of repair, and have held up the Marty Tankleff case as Exhibit A. They include Assemblyman Joseph R. Lentol, Assemblyman Michael Gianaris and Sen. Eric Schneiderman, the chairman of the New York State Senate Democratic Task Force on Criminal Justice reform, before which Marty testified yesterday.
To their great credit, Sen. Schneiderman and Assemblyman Gianaris apologized to Marty yesterday for his ordeal. "I cannot say enough how much all of us in public service and in government are really embarrassed and upset by what happened to you," said Sen. Schneiderman. "I'm sorry it took so long."
For his part, Marty called himself one of the "fortunate" ones: "I wrote over 50,000 letters. I was able to recruit the support of many, many lawyers and major law firms. There's too many men in prison who didn't get that luck."
One of the reforms the task force is pushing is for the videotaping of all custodial interrogations. "Had my interrogation been recorded, I would not have served 6,338 days in prison," Marty said, adding, "There's no downside to recording. The truth gets exposed. ... Does 17 years of my life cost as much as it does to record interrogations? How many other men have to serve time in prison because somebody says it costs too much? I can record this entire event on my cell phone. It's ridiculous."
Also testifying were Alan Newton, who was exonerated after 21 years in prison for a rape he did not commit, and Barry Kamins, chair of the New York State Bar Association's recently formulated task force that will examine over 50 wrongful convictions in New York State.
Read the coverage in Newsday.