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DA must pursue prosecutor misconduct

Timothy Sini.

Timothy Sini. Credit: Daniel Goodrich

Timothy Sini, the new Suffolk County district attorney, is to be congratulated for his initiative to ensure that the prosecutors in his office comply with the law and disclose to defense attorneys information that might indicate that the defendant did not commit the crime [“DA focuses on ethics,” News, March 8].

But the failures Sini acknowledges have long existed in that office and have led to wrongful convictions. These aren’t just ethical violations, they’re crimes.

New York penal code criminalizes official misconduct, which occurs when a public official “knowingly refrains from performing a duty which is imposed upon him by law or is clearly inherent in the nature of his office.”

As Sini makes clear, the U.S. Supreme Court’s holdings in Brady and other cases require prosecutors to hand over exculpatory material. As your article points out, some Suffolk prosecutors failed to do so.

The district attorney ought not allow past crimes by lawyers in that office to go unpunished. Prosecutors have been held accountable infrequently, if at all.

Richard Klein, Greenwich Village

Editor’s note: The writer is a professor at Touro Law School in Central Islip.