John Giuca Case: Brooklyn

John's mother undercover
Photo by Harry Benson

Railroaded by a desperate D.A. under enormous media pressure to solve a year-old murder case, 21-year old John Giuca was convicted in 2005 for a crime he did not commit.

John Giuca’s tragic case is not rare — according to Bennett L. Gershman, a professor at Pace Law School and one of the nation’s leading experts on prosecutorial misconduct: “Whereas a prosecutor’s motivation should be to vindicate the truth and administer justice, too many prosecutors seek to win a conviction at all costs by engaging in conduct calculated to produce a wrongful conviction.”

Brooklyn D.A.
Joe Hynes
Brooklyn D.A. Joe Hynes is no stranger to overzealous, politically-motivated prosecutions, as his now infamous destruction of political opponent John O’Hara’s career demonstrates. The only evidence mustered against John Giuca: three different, conflicting statements wrangled from witnesses a year after the murder, as a media campaign to get convictions — any kind of conviction — reached a fever pitch during Joe Hyne’s re-election campaign. Were these witnesses threatened with prosecution if they did not co-operate with the Brooklyn D.A.’s war party?

Not until leverage was found to hold over their heads did each and every witness change their stories in John’s favor to unfavorable. The prosecutors' explanation for their dramatic change in stories: once they were threatened with perjury charges, they decided to tell the truth, when in fact they received immunity for their own crimes in an exchange for a rehearsed, concocted story.

With changed statements, jailhouse snitches, political agendas, tainted jurors, media speculation reported as fact, did the accused have a chance for a fair trial? Such prosecutorial conduct is hardly rare in American jurisprudence.

The Innocence Project and affiliated teams of lawyers have estimated, largely from DNA-based exonerations they have won, that 20 percent of all death-row inmates are innocent, most of them convicted by circumstantial evidence or notoriously unreliable witness testimony — always more pliable than hard forensic evidence. According to The Innocence Project: "New York State leads the nation in wrongful convictions overturned with DNA testing but lags behind other states in enacting policy reforms to make the criminal justice system more fair and effective."

John Giuca’s case is now on appeal, thanks largely to the heroic efforts of his mother, Doreen Giuliano, who conducted a months-long undercover campaign to discover evidence for a reversal. Her story is told in the January 2009 issue of Vanity Fair by journalist Christopher Ketcham.

It turns out that a juror in the case, whom Ms. Giuliano secretly recorded, confessed that he knew John's friends before the trial, but lied about it under voir dire. Furthermore, he confessed to leading the charge for a guilty verdict in the otherwise vacillating jury. This alone is grounds for a reversal.

We, the friends and relatives of John Giuca, are committed to proving his innocence and helping him regain his freedom, however long it takes. To that end, we ask you to please sign the petition supporting John's efforts to win a new trial.

Intro to "Mother Justice" by Christopher Ketcham
November 2007, an apartment in the Bensonhurst section of Brooklyn: Dee Quinn is partying with a man she often identifies in her journal as “Target.” Dee is 46 but doesn’t look it. She is tiny, girlish, with golden-blond hair. Her breasts are high in a push-up bra. Wearing heels, she arches her back. Target, who is 32 and has a shaved head, doesn’t want sex. He’s hungry. Dee cooks. They talk at the bar in the kitchen.

Hidden in her handbag on the nearby table is a digital recorder. She will secretly tape their discussion that night, and will eventually gather countless hours of conversation. She cooks Target dinner. They drink wine. They smoke weed. Target likes marijuana. At two a.m., Target leaves the apartment with a full stomach.

Only then does Dee let the mask fall. Her body shakes. She breaks into tears, overcome with the stress of months of deception. She has had Target under surveillance for an entire year before making contact, going so far as to rent an apartment around the corner from the house where he lives with his mother.

She stops crying, steadies her hand, reaches into the handbag, turns off the tape recorder, tests the sound, douses the lights, sits on the couch, and waits. She waits for Target to get on his way. She can’t be seen leaving the safe house, not at this late hour.

When she finally steps into the cold Brooklyn night, she drives five miles—not far, but in Brooklyn that distance can mean traversing cultural continents—to a three-story house in a neighborhood of old Colonial and Victorian homes, an area called Prospect Park South. Her husband, Frank, has waited up for her, as he has for the past six months, worried that she wouldn’t make it home...

Read the complete story here

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