From the moment he emerged from state prison, following his exoneration in September 2006, Jeff Deskovic has been a tireless advocate on behalf of the wrongfully prosecuted and convicted. He has delivered more than 60 lectures at public schools, and universities, including Harvard; professionally sponsored conferences, including the American Psychological Association, and the State of Connecticut Division of Public Defender Services, each as keynote speaker.
He has lobbied and testified at legislative hearings in Albany and Hartford, as well as the New York State Bar Association. Additionally, Jeff continues to produce a weekly column in The Westchester Guardian, and giving major media and press interviews informing the general public of the continuing problems of prosecutorial misconduct, and wrongful convictions.
In collaboration with New Yorkers Against The Death Penalty, Jeff played an integral part of the successful resistance to strong efforts to restore capital punishment in New York in 2007.
He established the Jeffrey Deskovic Foundation as a vehicle through which others may assist with the mission of educating the public, seeking legislative changes designed to prevent wrongful convictions, clearing those currently incarcerated, wrongfully convicted persons whose cases may, or may not, involve testable DNA evidence, and providing reintegration support to those who are exonerated. All that he continues to do on behalf of the wrongfully convicted, and those who might one day be the victims of police and prosecutorial misconduct, comes as his response to his own wrongful conviction at the hands of the Peekskill Police and Westchester Prosecutors who railroaded him into prison at age 17 for a crime his DNA told them he did not commit.
Richard Blassberg was born and raised to age 16 in the 41st Precinct, "Fort Apache" The Bronx. He holds a degree in Psychology from Adelphi College, and a Law degree from Pace University School of Law.
A former Youth Board worker for the City of New York, and Probation Officer for the County of Westchester, Richard had worked for nearly three decades with formerly homeless, and disadvantaged individuals before changing gears, and employing his skills as a journalist for the former Martinelli Publications. His stint with Martinelli led to his founding of the influential weekly, The Westchester Guardian, serving four years as its editor-in-chief, as well as reporting each week from the County and Federal District courts. Richard Blassberg is the author of The Jeanine Machine, published in 2002, detailing some of Jeanine Pirro’'s more egregious activities while District Attorney.
In his capacity as a project director and case manager for a leading Westchester agency working with formerly homeless, developmentally disabled adults in White Plains, he came face to face with the prosecutorial misconduct of the Westchester District Attorney's Office, and the injustices of the criminal justice system that he monitored and reported weekly for more than eight years.
Andrew Karmen earned a Ph.D. in sociology from Columbia University in 1977. Since 1978, he has been a professor in the Sociology Department at John Jay College of Criminal Justice of the City University of New York. He has taught courses on victimology, criminology, drug abuse, delinquency, social problems, race relations, criminal justice, policy analysis, research methods, statistics, introductory sociology, and an overview of crime and justice in New York City. At John Jay College, he has served as co-director of the master’s program in criminal justice, advisor for undergraduates majoring in criminal justice and in criminology, and member of the doctoral faculty.
Dr. Karmen has co-edited a reader (with Donal MacNamara) called Deviants: Victims or Victimizers? (Sage, 1983). He has authored journal articles and chapters in books on a number of subjects, including drug abuse, auto theft, police use of deadly force, the zero tolerance crackdown on quality of life infractions in New York City, vigilantism, research taboos, news media ethics, providing lawyers for indigents, providing advocates for victims, victims’ rights, the victimization of women, and the likely situation of crime victims in the future. In New York Murder Mystery: The True Story Behind the Crime Crash of the 1990s (NYU Press, 2000; paperback edition, 2006), he analyzed why crime rates rise and fall. The 7th edition of his textbook, Crime Victims: An Introduction To Victimology, was published by Cengage Publishers in 2009.
What originally attracted Andrew Karmen to criminology and criminal justice in the late 1960s were claims by prominent activists that they were innocent victims of miscarriages of justice.
After her husband's wrongful incarceration in 2000, Annemarie DiSimone felt much compassion toward others similarly incarcerated compelling her to volunteer at the Bedford Women's Correctional Facility. After many conversations with inmates she came to realize the difficulty of achieving a successful appeal. It was then that she became very active in the legal process, doing case law research for her husband and others.
Over the course of eleven years and thirteen court proceedings, the ongoing battle to gain her husband's freedom succeeded in early 2007 when Anthony was released from prison and granted an unconditional habeas corpus by a federal court, with the Westchester DA's grudging consent. Annemarie continues even now to struggle with the fact that despite a mountain of previously withheld exculpatory evidence pointing to a confessed alternate suspect, and significant misconduct by prosecutors and police, her husband was compelled, for lack of adequate financial resources to secure competent investigation and legal representation at trial, to accept a plea-bargained conviction for a crime of which he is plainly innocent in order to ensure his freedom.
Given her experiences with the legal system during this personal horrendous ordeal, as well as the strength and determination she has exhibited, it is clear that she possesses the combination of knowledge and dedication necessary to aid the cause of Anti-Wrongful-Conviction.
Rosemarie DiGuglielmo has enjoyed a very successful and diverse career in business, employed, early on, as a bookkeeper in the baked goods industry, and then the electrical service and contracting business. She then went on, together with her husband, to the development of real estate in Westchester’s river towns in the mid-80’s and early 90’s, ultimately building, and expanding the commercial site in Dobbs Ferry where she and her family have operated a retail business for nearly two decades.
Rosemarie became passionate about combating wrongful convictions as the result of her son Richard’s wrongful conviction for murder. That conviction grew out of clear self-defense killing of a perpetrator with a long rap sheet who had struck her husband twice with a metal baseball bat, first breaking his wrist and then striking his leg with such force that one witness said it could be heard a block away, and was now in the act of swinging for his head, as one witness described, “to crush his head like a watermelon.” At that point, her son, an off-duty New York City Transit Police Officer, fired “three shots to center mass,” as he had been trained to do in such situations for 12 years with the NYPD.
She was the driving force for 12 years in the successful effort in getting the conviction reversed, prior to The Appellate Division reinstating it 20 months later, in a decision that was wrong on the facts and the law, with broad, harmful implications not only for the laws governing justifiable use of deadly force by both civilians and police, but for the granting of post conviction relief on the grounds of newly uncovered information previously unavailable to the jury, raising the bar from reasonable possibility of a outcome more favorable to the defendant to reasonable probability.