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Wrongly Convicted Pro Bono Client Acquitted at Fifth Trial After Nearly 17 Years in Prison

As reported in U.S. News & World Report, The Associated Press and other media, a Westchester jury acquitted Paul, Weiss client Selwyn Days of all charges, after he had spent nearly 17 years in jail for a crime he did not commit.

Selwyn Days was convicted in 2003 of a 1996 double murder in Eastchester, New York. The prosecution, despite a messy crime scene, was unable to produce any forensic evidence whatsoever tying Selwyn to the homicides. Instead, the prosecutors relied heavily on a videotaped confession made after Selwyn spent 17 hours in custody and after six hours of unrecorded questioning.

The Paul, Weiss team became involved in 2009 when the Tax and Corporate Departments assisted the Exoneration Initiative (“EXI”), an organization dedicated to providing free legal assistance to wrongfully convicted people in New York, in incorporating as a non-profit and obtaining Section 501(c)(3) status. Thereafter, litigators set to work in getting Selwyn’s conviction overturned. Paul, Weiss attorneys, working with lawyers from EXI, challenged Selwyn’s conviction and secured a new trial. In 2010, Selwyn’s re-trial, his third, ended with a hung jury. His fourth trial – in which the court rejected defense efforts to call an expert on false confessions – resulted in a conviction. Paul, Weiss again appealed, successfully arguing (and making new law in the process) that the trial court’s refusal to allow expert testimony on the subject of false confessions deprived Selwyn of his constitutional right to mount a defense.

On September 12 of this year, after a month-long trial (Selwyn’s fifth) and a day and a half of deliberations, a jury acquitted Selwyn of all charges, allowing him to walk out of court a free man. The result, which is final and cannot be appealed by the prosecution, represents the culmination of an extraordinary commitment to the defense of the indigent and the wrongly accused, both by Paul, Weiss and EXI.

The Paul, Weiss trial team was led by litigation partner Roberto Finzi and included litigation associates Justin Wiley and Jonathan Bodansky. Litigation partner William Clareman and various former associates also contributed countless hours to the effort over the years.  

September 14, 2017

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