STORY: "Testimony on knife adds another claim to Tankleff suit," by reporter Andrew Keshner, published by The New York Law Journal on May 8 2015.
GIST: "As Martin Tankleff presses his case against Suffolk County and various detectives for their liability in his now-vacated convictions in the murder of his parents, a federal magistrate judge has decided he can include a claim that defendants failed to disclose a medical examiner's doubts about the purported murder weapon. Eastern District Magistrate Judge Anne Shields permitted Tankleff to amend his complaint so that he could allege a Brady violation now that fact discovery has concluded in the case. The new claim arises from the deposition testimony of then-Suffolk County Medical Examiner Dr. Vernard Adams, who said it was "not a reasonable possibility" that Arlene Tankleff's stab wounds were made with a watermelon knife found at the scene.........Arlene and Seymour Tankleff were murdered in their Belle Terre home in 1988. At the scene, detectives found a watermelon knife with a 9 1/2-inch blade. At trial, prosecutors relied heavily on a disputed confession, which Tankleff recanted hours after he gave it. Tankleff's attorneys say he was induced to make the recanted confession through trickery and facts fed to him.........In 1990, Tankleff was convicted of the intentional murder of his father and the depraved indifference murder of his mother..........In 2007, the Appellate Division, Second Department, vacated the conviction and ordered a retrial. Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota asked then-state Attorney General Andrew Cuomo to become the case's special prosecutor. But Cuomo's office decided in 2008 there was insufficient evidence to bring a new case and moved to dismiss the case in the interest of justice. Tankleff was incarcerated for more than 17 years before his conviction was vacated. Tankleff filed the Eastern District action, Tankleff v. County of Suffolk, 09-cv-01207, which named the county, the detectives on his case and various police officials as defendants. Tankleff also filed an unjust conviction and imprisonment lawsuit against New York state. On the eve of trial last year, the parties settled that case for almost $3.4 million. In the federal lawsuit, one of the original arguments was a Brady claim, based on a bloody knife imprint in bed sheets found at the scene. Tankleff said the detectives chose not to tell prosecutors about the imprint, which did not match the watermelon knife......... In the deposition, one of Tankleff's attorneys, Barry Scheck of Neufeld Scheck & Brustin, questioned Adams on whether Arlene Tankleff's wounds could have been made by the knife and whether Adams communicated his opinions to the detectives at the autopsy. Adams said "the only way the watermelon knife could have been the weapon is if it was used gingerly and carefully." Asked about the possibility that Arlene's wounds were made with the knife, Adams said he "would agree that it's not a reasonable possibility" and that an "assailant with [the watermelon] knife should have been penetrating body cavities." When asked if it was fair to say he would have told the detectives at the autopsy that there was no reasonable possibility the watermelon knife was the weapon, Adams said it was a "reasonable supposition. I don't have any recollection of what we actually communicated, but that seems reasonable.".........In an interview, Scheck said the new claim was a "very significant development in the case" and something that did not emerge even in the attorney general's "very thorough" reinvestigation.""