Media & News

Jesse Friedman FOIL Case Goes to Court of Appeals

Andrew Keshner, New York Law Journal

April 6, 2016

Jesse Friedman
AP/Seth Wenig

The state Court of Appeals will consider Jesse Friedman's attempt to have Nassau County prosecutors turn over the case file and grand jury minutes related to his decades-old sex abuse conviction.

The court granted Friedman's leave to appeal on Tuesday.

In a 3-1 ruling in December, the Appellate Division, Second Department, overturned a lower court's 2013 order in Freedom of Information Law litigation that would have made the Nassau County District Attorney's office produce "every piece of paper" in the child abuse case.

The Second Department's unsigned majority said non-testifying witness statements were confidential and there was no need to reveal grand jury proceedings ( NYLJ, Dec. 10, 2015 ).

Dissenting Justice Betsy Barros said Friedman should have received the investigatory and case files with redactions for complainants who objected to identity disclosure, along with grand jury minutes redacting the names of complainants objecting to disclosure.

In 1988, Friedman pleaded guilty to multiple charges of first-degree sodomy and first-degree sexual abuse in connection to the alleged abuse of boys during computer classes held at his Great Neck home. Friedman now says he is innocent and his plea was coerced.

Friedman also has a pending "actual innocence" claim before Acting Nassau County Supreme Court Justice Terence Murphy.

Court of Appeals spokesman Gary Spencer said on average it takes about a year from the leave grant to oral arguments, and then another month or two before a decision is rendered.

Ronald Kuby, who represents Friedman, said in a statement, "The court's decision to hear Friedman's appeal is a major step in the direction of transparency and open government."

The district attorney's office declined to comment.

Nassau County Assistant District Attorneys Daniel Bresnahan and Judith Sternberg appeared for the prosecution.

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