Judge Vacates Conviction and Dismisses Indictment Against Fernando Bermudez

Bermudez Represented by Miller & Chevalier Member Barry Pollack

Washington D.C., November 12, 2009 – This morning Justice John Cataldo of the New York State Supreme Court vacated the conviction of and dismissed the indictment against Fernando Bermudez, who has been serving a 23-years-to-life prison sentence after being wrongly convicted for the murder of Raymond Blount outside of a nightclub in Manhattan in 1991.

For over 18 years, Bermudez has maintained his innocence, saying that he did not know Raymond Blount or any of the witnesses who had testified against him at his trial and was not at the nightclub the night of the shooting.  After 11 previous unsuccessful attempts to overturn the conviction, Bermudez challenged his conviction based on perjured trial testimony by a cooperating witness and tainted identification procedures.

At the hearing, which began on September 1, 2009, a pro bono team of defense lawyers led by Barry Pollack presented evidence that the police allowed eyewitnesses to confer before identifying Bermudez and that the government's cooperating witness at trial lied on the stand.  Today, Judge Cataldo agreed that Bermudez is innocent, and his conviction cannot stand.

“No one can give Fernando Bermudez and his family back the nearly two decades he has spent in jail for a crime he did not commit.  Mr. Bermudez and his family have waited more than eighteen years for this day,” said Pollack.  “The Court's decision today finally corrects a grave injustice.  Mr. Bermudez's family, friends and supporters have known all along that Mr. Bermudez is an innocent man who was wrongfully convicted. He had absolutely nothing to do with the murder of Raymond Blount.”

In addition to Barry Pollack, the dedicated pro bono team of lawyers and investigators included, in particular, lawyer Lesley Risinger, who has spent years fighting to obtain justice for Fernando Bermudez. Alan Kaufman of Kelley Drye & Warren has also been instrumental in presenting this matter to the court.

Pollack previously led a team of pro bono lawyers who obtained the exoneration of Martin Tankleff, a Long Island man who served more than 17 years in prison after being wrongfully convicted of the murder of his parents.  For his work in that case, Pollack received a Gideon Champion of Justice Award from the New York State Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers and the Mid-Atlantic Innocence Project's 2009 Defender of the Innocent Award.

About Miller & Chevalier
Founded in 1920, Miller & Chevalier is a Washington, D.C. law firm with a global perspective and leading practices in tax; employee benefits, including ERISA; international law and business; complex litigation; and government affairs. For more information on the firm, visit www.millerchevalier.com

Barry Pollack, Member, White Collar and Internal Investigations Practice, 202-230-9647; bpollack@milchev.com
Laura Miller, Media Relations, Greentarget, 312-252-4104

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