If you want a textbook example of how absurdly unfair New York’s criminal justice system can be, look no further than a Staten Island judge’s recent decision to vacate a man’s 2018 guilty plea after body camera footage emerged that appears to show an NYPD officer planting marijuana in his car.
Anyone who sees this body camera footage would likely conclude the judge made the right call in vacating Jason Serrano’s conviction. And she did. But thanks to a peculiarity in New York case law, Serrano couldn’t challenge his conviction by claiming he was innocent — even though the footage seems to show just that. New York law won’t allow it, even in a case like Serrano’s where he appears to have been framed.
Originally published in New York Daily News on December 12, 2021.