Sometimes innocent people spend years in prison as the result of police and/or prosecutorial misconduct. Those who are wrongfully imprisoned suffer significant harm: death, physical injury and severe illness, loss of family, employment, homes.

According to press reports, 3,500 inmates have been exonerated nationally since 1989. Philadelphia has been a hot zone for wrongful incarceration with 47 people being exonerated since 2018 alone. In 2023, Philadelphia accounted for nearly 10% of all exonerations nationally.

These convictions are often overturned because of police or prosecutorial misconduct – evidence withheld, witnesses coerced or recanting testimony – or flawed science or lack of forensic evidence.

Many inmates who were wrongfully imprisoned have later filed lawsuits after their release and won millions of dollars against the very authorities who put them behind bars. For instance, a Philadelphia jury recently awarded a man $16 million for being wrongfully convicted of murder in 1991.

The Newest Abuse: Misuse of Video Surveillance

And there is no indication that the misconduct that has led to so many exonerations is any less prevalent now than it was in the 1990s. For instance, The Philadelphia Inquirer has reported that the Philadelphia Police Department uses surveillance cameras frequently, particularly in narcotics cases, but often doesn’t disclose that to defendants. The newspaper also reported that the surveillance footage often exonerates defendants – or shows that police officers were lying.

If you or a loved one believes you were the victim of a wrongful incarceration, you may have suffered a significant civil rights violation and should contact a civil rights attorney today, particularly:

  • If you or a loved one was wrongfully convicted and the police didn’t disclose the operation and use of video surveillance;
  • If you or a loved one was wrongfully convicted because of police or prosecutorial misconduct or flawed science.

With 60 experienced attorneys, several of them former prosecutors, Kline & Specter has obtained not only redress for its clients in civil rights cases but also important societal changes to protect the safety of citizens. The firm has the expertise and track record to pursue such wrongful incarceration cases.

Some of the firm’s notable achievements in civil rights cases include:

  • Tom Kline's settlement for the City of Philadelphia to pay $4.4 million to a take-out food deliveryman who was shot and grievously wounded by plainclothes officers. The 2017 settlement was the largest-ever by the city and the sixth-largest nationally in a police shooting case. But importantly, the city also agreed to revamp regulations and implement new training protocols for plainclothes officers. (see coverage)
  • The firm settled with the City of Philadelphia for $10.5 million for the family of a Philadelphia teenager who was strangled after being placed in a restraint hold at a Tennessee treatment center, where he had been placed by the Department of Human Services despite warnings that it was a dangerous facility. (News coverage)
  • In yet another case, Shanin Specter sued the City of Philadelphia after LeeMore Rich and his infant son were killed by a speeding police car as they stood on a street corner. The civil rights claim allowed Specter to circumvent the city’s sovereign immunity – which set a $250,000 cap on lawsuits. He settled the case with the city for $1.125 million. (See Gillyard/Rich)
  • But Specter did not stop there. In researching the case, he discovered many smaller settlements paid by the city to victims of similar accidents. He also found that over roughly a four-year period city police vehicles had been involved in 3,800 collisions, most of them avoidable. Specter's persistence in negotiations with the Philadelphia Police Department resulted in a series of reforms to improve police driver training, deter reckless driving and heighten safety.
  • Kline & Specter filed suit in a case involving a Pennsylvania state trooper who shot and killed a 42-year-old woman in her car in western Pennsylvania. The civil suit on behalf of Charity Thome cites a violation of her civil rights. It was the fourth fatal shooting by the officer, three since 2017. (Read articles)

Kline & Specter represents people who have suffered as a result of their civil rights being violated, particularly those who have been wrongfully incarcerated. Contact us through this website or call us at +12157721000.

The firm handles cases in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York and Delaware. For cases outside those states, Kline & Specter works with local attorneys in each state as applicable.