The two now-retired detectives, Vincent Gerecitano and Jose Hernandez, did not move for dismissal and as a result, a number of claims against the pairincluding violations of Collins' Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment rightsare moving forward. They are the only individual defendants left in the case.
In 2010, Eastern District Judge Dora Irizarry issued a writ of habeas corpus in which she blasted the prosecution's attitude during her review as "shameful" and barred the district attorney's office from retrying Collins (NYLJ, June 10, 2010).
Block also criticized the office during oral arguments late last year on the city's dismissal motion. He said then that he was "disturbed by allegations that Hynes praised Vecchione," and also that he was "puzzled" why Hynes had not taken disciplinary action against Vecchione (NYLJ, Nov. 19, 2012).
Block also at the time urged settlement talks and said he would let some claims proceed.
In his Feb. 15 ruling, Block also scrutinized the actions of six prosecutors who denied Collins' FOIL requests following his conviction. The office denied the requested information existed, even though it did, Collins noted in his complaint.
Collins argued their conduct violated the state Freedom of Information Law and also his rights under Brady v. Maryland, 373 U.S. 83, a 1963 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that requires prosecutors to disclose material, exculpatory evidence to defendants.
The city said the prosecutors were entitled to absolute immunity because their responses were associated with their prosecutorial function.
In dismissing the prosecutors from the case, the judge said their duty to answer FOIL requests could be viewed "in some general sense" as "administrative." But Block noted Collins was trying to "elevate" the duty to a constitutional obligation pursuant Brady.
"That duty entails a uniquely prosecutorial function and, therefore, must be protected by absolute immunity," he wrote.
Block also held two investigators in the district attorney's office were entitled to absolute immunity. And he dismissed an intentional infliction of emotional distress claim against the city.