October 24, 2014

Typo In Court Documents Frees Convict From 15 Year Sentence At Elmira Correctional Facility In NY

Typo frees convict early from 15-year sentence

From: NY Post

An ex-con who got an NYPD cop shot during a gun buy-and-bust is about to get sprung from the slammer early — thanks to a typo on his court transcript.

A Brooklyn appeals court tossed Kevin Langston’s 15-year sentence for weapons possession in the case — because his official transcript wrongly says he was to get only five years.

Prosecutors say the transcript showing the shorter term was missing a “1” due to “an error by the court reporter,” who has since retired and can’t be found.

But a panel of judges at the Appellate Division’s 2nd Department recently ruled that Langston still had “acquired a legitimate expectation of finality” with the five-year sentence.

His lawyer said his client could be released from the upstate Elmira Correctional Facility as early as Friday, about eight months before he was to be freed on “conditional release.”

“It’s a very unusual situation,” said his lawyer, Paul Skip Laisure of Appellate Advocates. “You can’t be tried twice for the same crime, and you can’t be sentenced twice for the same crime.”

The Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office said it disagreed with the decision and was weighing its options,

“It is our position that this defendant benefited from a court reporter’s error,” said a spokeswoman for DA Ken Thompson.

Langston, she said, “heard the judge sentence him to 15 years. The sentencing judge gave him 15 years, and that is what he should serve.”

According to court records, Langston was the middleman in a 2002 undercover NYPD gun-buying operation in Brooklyn.

He set up a meeting between three undercover cops and three suspected gun dealers. The suspects opened fire on the cops in a housing-project hallway, hitting Detective Artie Marquez in the hand.

Langston was convicted of assault and weapons possession, for which the DA says he got concurrent, maximum sentences of 25 and 15 years, respectively.

At the time, Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Abraham Gerges said, “If I had an opportunity to give a higher sentence, I probably would have,” according to papers filed by the DA.

But a federal judge tossed the assault conviction in 2010, and Langston was released because the transcript of his sentencing showed the five-year term for the weapons rap and he had already served more than eight years.

Prosecutors got another judge to “resettle” the transcript, and he was sent back to prison.

But Wednesday, the appeals court unanimously found the move violated the Fifth Amendment’s double-jeopardy clause.