After a judge on the New York State Court of Appeals died, the court postponed a hearing on whether Jesse Friedman, a convicted sex offender and former Great Neck resident, can get access to his full case file to try proving his innocence.
The hearing was scheduled for April 26.
Associate Judge Sheila Abdus-Salaam, who had served on the Court of Appeals, the state’s highest court, since 2013, was found dead on April 12 in the Hudson River.
“As a result of the tragic death of Judge Sheila Abdus-Salaam of the NYS Court of Appeals, the oral arguments on the Jesse Friedman case have been postponed,” Lonnie Soury, a spokesman for Jesse Friedman, said in an email. “We do not have a new date yet.”
In a 1987 case, police accused Jesse Friedman, his father, Arnold, and three others of abusing hundreds of children in after-school computer classes in the Friedmans’ residence. The Friedmans pleaded guilty to abusing 13 boys in 1988.
Jesse Friedman served 13 years in prison and is currently labeled a sexual predator. He was released on parole in 2001 and then retracted his guilty plea. He said that law enforcement officials coerced his confession and that they manipulated false claims from the alleged victims.
Arnold Friedman committed suicide in prison in 1995.
In 2010, the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit said there might be evidence suggesting that Jesse Friedman was wrongfully convicted. A three-year investigation by former District Attorney Kathleen Rice’s office rejected that notion. Representatives for Friedman contested that claim and said the “Rice report” contained falsehoods.
Nassau Court Supreme Court Justice F. Dana Winslow, who reviewed the files related to the Friedmans’ case, ordered the Nassau County district attorney’s office to turn over “every single piece of paper” related to the case to Friedman in 2013. However, an appellate court ruled that the Nassau County district attorney’s office did not need to give Friedman his files.
Friedman had sought the files through a Freedom of Information Law request.
The April 26 oral arguments were seen as a first step by Friedman’s lawyer to potentially schedule an innocence hearing for Friedman.