Post-Conviction Innocence Clinic Wins New Hearing for Client

On January 23, 2019, NYLS’s Post-Conviction Innocence Clinic won a favorable decision from a state appeals court on behalf of one of its longtime clients, Andrew Krivak. The decision brings Krivak a step closer to vacating his 1997 conviction, based on the discovery of new evidence.

The clinic has worked with Krivak for years. In 1996, he and another man were arrested in connection with the death of a child in Putnam County, New York. Krivak has maintained that his confession was the result of coercion by law enforcement officials. He has been in prison for more than 20 years.

Newly discovered evidence now points to a different suspect who was not considered in the original case and had links to the victim. This evidence resulted in new trials for the other man, who was acquitted by a jury in 2016.

In 2017, the clinic filed a motion arguing that Krivak is entitled to a new evidentiary hearing. NYLS students played a key role in drafting the legal papers related to this effort. In its January 23 decision, the Appellate Division, Second Department (a state appeals court) determined that Krivak is entitled to the hearing and, “with all convenient speed,” a decision on his request to vacate his conviction.

It’s a step forward in a case that, like many the clinic handles, has spanned years of determined work with a single client.

About the Clinic

NYLS’s Post-Conviction Innocence Clinic represents a small number of clients who have been convicted of serious crimes in New York State but who present a colorable claim of actual innocence that cannot be proven through DNA evidence alone. New York Criminal Procedure Law §440.10 creates a pathway for such clients to request reversal of their conviction based upon newly discovered evidence.

The clinic has also worked with the Conviction Review Bureaus recently created by New York DAs, including in the Bronx, Brooklyn, and Suffolk County.

Both Day Division and Evening Division students are eligible to participate. The clinic is led by Distinguished Adjunct Professor Adele Bernhard, who began her career as a public defender.