A federal judge in Brooklyn is creating a stir with his public remarks about prosecutions by the former Brooklyn DA’s office.
In an exclusive interview with the I-Team, Senior Judge Frederic Block criticized the management of former Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes, who was unseated by civil rights attorney Ken Thompson in 2013.
The 83-year-old Block has now written what he calls a “reality fiction” novel whose central character is a civil rights attorney, Ken Williams, who unseats a corrupt District Attorney.
“There’s no question the book doesn’t speak well of his office,” said Block. “He (Hynes) has done a lot of good things, but I certainly don’t approve of the fact that his office was involved with a lot of these phony convictions.”
Block presided over the civil case of Jabbar Collins, who settled a civil case with New York City in 2014 for $10 million dollars. Collins spent 16 years in prison for a 1994 murder he did not commit. Block issued a strongly worded decision about the DA’s office under Hynes.
“I hate to use the word corrupt, but they were just dead wrong in the way they managed these cases,” Block said. “So the reality part is his office did not acknowledge its wrongdoing. They knew about this. They tried to stonewall it.”
He added, “I’m using a good story that’s fictionalized that’s based on a lot of reality things that I’ve experienced throughout the course of my life to make for a good read and also to talk about those issues.”
In the novel, Collins is morphed into the character, Jo Jo Jones. In a reality twist, Ken Thompson often told reporters that Collins’ wrongful conviction spurred him to run for District Attorney.
In a statement to the I-Team, Charles Hynes said, “It’s a book of fiction, what can I say.”
He added,” Does the judge note that I started a conviction integrity unit two years before I left office?”
On a recent day, Ken Thompson’s widow, Lu-Shawn Thompson, was invited to the Judge’s chambers in downtown Brooklyn to receive an autographed copy of the book. She said while her husband was hospitalized, he became aware that the novel was inspired by him.
“A few days before he died, he worried about his legacy,” she said. “He was honored.”
Block has lifetime tenure. His book is scheduled for release on Oct. 10.