G. McConway
December 25, 2023

Inside Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg’s Post-conviction Justice Unit

One of the most famous cases ever tried in New York was five teens convicted of an April 1989 attack against a jogger in Central Park.

Alvin Bragg, the current Manhattan DA, was a teenager at the time, but he remembers the case well.

So much so, in fact, it was one of the first cases he would look at after taking over as DA.

Set Them Free

The case was brought back into the limelight when Trump was running for office because of an ad he took out titled, “Bring Back the Death Penalty. Bring Back Our Police!”

Bragg recently commented about the case, stating, “I think for most boys, now men, of that time in Harlem, it just left a deep imprint.”

So, Bragg, as a prosecutor, put together a team to look for holes in cases to set what he deemed to be wrongful convictions. The Central Park 5 were first on his list.

Unit Chief Terri Rosenblatt, who is now in charge of the team, which has grown to 13 people, including an investigator and seven attorneys, works independently from the DA's office.

Rosenblatt stated, “We’re looking at closed cases of people who have been convicted.”

The sixth person arrested in the Central Park attack, Steven Lopez, was the first person set free by the unit, with the convictions of the other five having been vacated in 2002 after serial rapist Matias Reyes confessed to the crime, with DNA evidence backing up his confession.

Now, Bragg’s unit worked to exonerate Wayne Gardine and Jabar Walker, both of whom were convicted of murders in 1996 and 1998 respectively.

The unit is now working on the case of Eric Smokes and David Warren, asking a Manhattan judge to overturn the convictions after both were found guilty of the 1987 murder of a tourist in Times Square.

Bragg is now gaining national headlines for going after Donald Trump, charging Trump with 34-count felony indictment for “falsifying New York business records in order to conceal damaging information and unlawful activity from American voters before and after the 2016 election.”

These are charges stemming from the hush money paid to, among others, Stormy Daniels, who alleged she had an affair with Trump while married to his current wife, Melania.

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