msnbc | January 05, 2013
>> hurricane sandy's impact is reaching past homes and brings and now disrupting criminal trials in new york city , who warehouses where they kept all the evidence flooded. the nypd, has 20 officers, six civilians and a captain trying to recover the evidence. all of this according to the "new york times" it flooded 11,000 barrels of evidence. steve, first of all, what was in the barrels? the barrels included dna evidence , cloth, clothing, drugs, guns, there were cars. all the kinds of things that could be associated with a case.
>> in at least six criminal trials the evidence was inaccessibility, how big of a problem is this, potentially?
>> those six cases are just the tip of the iceberg , we handle 300,000 cases but 213,000 cases are criminal cases . so the idea that only six cases with 11,000 barrels inaccessibility damaged or loft, i think what the real concern here is that in many cases there will be a grave injustice because the evidence is not available and we are concerned about wrongful convictions as a result of the situation.
>> you were -- what happened in the latest case you were involved in.
>> the report was presented about the evidence showed and what it was, and the individual was unable to confront the evidence, and fundamental to the system is you are able to challenge how the evidence is collected, tested, and presented. if we have learned anything about dna, it lead to wrongful confictions if it's not presented properly.
>> how do you proceed when dna is a critical part of the case?
>> we may not know in these cases which ones are effected. in new york , it's one of 14 states in the country who have yet to reform the discovery laws. in new york , we have trial by ambush, you do not find out what the evidence until the trial. if you are sued in a consumer case or a contract case, you have the right to discovery, and a copy of the contract, not so in a criminal case in new york . this is a situation that highlights the need for discovery reform in new york . we have asked the police for an accounting of all cases that are effected and incumbent on them to provide it and if not, we have to go to court. i hope we don't have to, but we may have to.
>> in your zeal to make sure that rights will not get -- trampeled, are bad guys going to get off?
>> we are just not evaluating what the consequences will be, before we proceed further, it's important for the police to provide the information about what cases are effected, so that everyone, the prosecution and the defense can assess what is going on in the cases.
>> steve banks , chief lawyer for the legal aid society , i appreciate you being here keep us posted on all this