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Unanimous Decision from New York Court of Appeals Reinstates Lawsuit Against City for False Arrest and Malicious Prosecution

The Perecman Firm, P.L.L.C. received a decision today from the New York Court of Appeals that reinstated a suit against The City of New York for one of our clients. We are happy to announce that her case will now go to trial.

The New York Court of Appeals released a decision today in the case of our client Maria De Lourdes Torres, who was jailed four years in Rikers Island for murder, allowing her case to go to trial. Torres was charged for murder in 2002 based on a confession that was later found to contradict physical evidence found at the crime scene, evidence that detectives did not pursue in Ms. Torres’ case.

In 2007, the charges against Ms. Torres were dismissed. She then sued for false arrest and malicious prosecution. Today’s decision by the Court of Appeals reverses the lower court’s decision and allows the trial to move forward.

The lawsuit specifically names four New York City detectives as defendants, alleging false arrest and malicious prosecution. The Perecman Firm believes that Torres was coerced into signing a false murder confession. The decision to allow her case to go to trial means that a jury will be able to evaluate the issues and hear Ms. Torres’ own account of how the murder confession was obtained.

We believe that the defendants acted in bad faith, coercing Torres to sign a fabricated murder confession, even though they knew she did not commit the crime – there were enough contradictions to indicate that it was near impossible for the defendants to reasonably believe Ms. Torres committed the murder. The result was that Ms. Torres was held in Rikers for four years.

Ms. Torres signed the confession after 22 hours of interrogation, during which time we believe police used tactics such as threats and intimidation, failing to fully inform Ms. Torres of her Miranda rights, and promises of leniency, among other things. Ms. Torres also did not have counsel present at the time of questioning and lacked experience with the criminal justice system.

The resulting confession contradicts the physical and DNA evidence found at the crime scene, and the defendants have expressed that they remember little about what occurred. All of these factors present glaring issues that, we are happy to say, will now be determined at trial.


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