Peter Neufeld, a nationally recognized civil-rights lawyer, has spent over 35 years trying cases on behalf of victims of police misconduct and wrongful convictions. Neufeld’s unflinching commitment to his clients has led to numerous substantial verdicts and settlements and caused systemic criminal-justice reforms.
Litigating civil-rights cases in trial and appellate courts nationwide, including the U.S. Supreme Court, Neufeld has pioneered key legal theories. For example, Neufeld represented Earl Washington, Jr., a man with mild mental retardation who spent 17 years in prison—9 of them on death row—for a rape and murder that DNA proved he did not commit. Neufeld showed that a state police officer had caused Washington’s wrongful conviction by first feeding him information about the crime that only the true perpetrator would know, and then falsely claiming this nonpublic information had originated with Washington. After Neufeld argued the appeal, the Fourth Circuit agreed that the investigator could be held legally responsible for fabricating Washington’s false confession. A substantial verdict for Mr. Washington followed. The Fourth Circuit fabricated confession theory was then adopted by other federal circuits. The Washington case also led to an audit of the Virginia state crime lab and the prosecution of the true perpetrator.
In addition to his civil-rights practice at NSB, Neufeld, along with NSB partner Barry Scheck, co-founded and co-directs The Innocence Project at the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law. The Innocence Project has been responsible in whole or in part for exonerating most of the over 300 men and women to be cleared through post-conviction DNA testing. On topics including flawed forensic science and the causes of wrongful convictions and remedies, Neufeld has testified frequently before Congress and state legislatures, taught programs for judges and lawyers, and lectured to legal and scientific organizations across the country and abroad. Neufeld also taught trial advocacy for several years at Fordham University Law School. Prior to entering private practice, Neufeld was a staff attorney for many years with The Legal Aid Society in the Bronx.
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