People v. State

fairly undermining public confidence in the administration of justice

This is Honor . . .

December 17, 2013 By: John Kindley Category: Uncategorized

. . . and Redemption:

Not long ago, Mr. Barbaro, 85, decided to contact the lawyer for the man, Donald Kagan. He got a transcript of the trial, during which Mr. Kagan had waived his right to a jury and put his fate in Judge Barbaro’s hands.

“As I read it, I couldn’t believe my eyes,” the former judge said in an interview. “It was so obvious I had made a mistake. I got sick. Physically sick.”

Mr. Barbaro’s change of heart led to a highly unusual spectacle this week in a Brooklyn courtroom: He took the witness stand in State Supreme Court to testify at a hearing that his own verdict should be set aside. His reason was even more unusual: As a die-hard liberal who had fought as a politician against racism in Brooklyn and weathered the race conflicts in Bensonhurst, he said he had been biased against Mr. Kagan because he was white and the shooting victim, Wavell Wint, was black.

. . .

Mr. Kagan was found guilty in October 1999 of murder and criminal possession of a weapon.

A few years later, after his retirement, Mr. Barbaro found he could not let go of the case. “I began to have doubts,” he said, “and the doubts grew.” In 2011, he contacted Mr. Kagan’s lawyer, Jeff Adler.

Mr. Barbaro said that as he read the trial transcript, he came to believe Mr. Kagan’s self-defense claims were valid. “With these undisputed facts, I should have acquitted him,” he said in the interview. “There was no way I could have found him guilty.”

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