Significant Criminal Appeals Bureau Habeas Corpus Win
WEDNESDAY, MARCH 30, 2011

Criminal Appeals Bureau Supervising Attorney Alan Axelrod won a significant victory last week for his client, Norcott Corby, when Judge Laura Swain Taylor of the Eastern District of New York granted a writ of habeas corpus voiding Mr. Corby’s murder conviction.

At trial, Mr. Corby was represented by New York County Criminal Defense Practice Attorney Tom Klein, who thoroughly litigated and fully preserved the claim that the trial judge had violated Mr. Corby’s Confrontation Clause rights by completely barring cross-examination establishing that the key prosecution witness had accused Mr. Corby of the crime only after the police told her that Mr. Corby had previously implicated her. The Appellate Division, First Department affirmed Mr. Corby’s conviction as did the New York Court of Appeals, over the vigorous dissent of former Judge George Bundy Smith.

Finding that the New York courts had unreasonably applied well-established United States Supreme Court precedent in rejecting the Confrontation Clause claim and noting the absence of other incriminating evidence, Judge Swain ordered the State to release Mr. Corby or to provide him with a new trial. Judge Swain has stayed her order pending a possible State appeal to the Second Circuit.