Ex-NYPD cop Liang gets new de­fense team

China Daily (Canada) - - ACROSS AMERICAS - By HEZI JIANG in New York hez­i­jiang@chi­nadai­lyusa.com

Peter Liang has hired a le­gal new team to help with his ap­peal of a jury ver­dict that found the for­mer New York City po­lice of­fi­cer guilty of sec­ond­de­gree man­slaugh­ter and of­fi­cial mis­con­duct.

Paul Shecht­man, a New York de­fense at­tor­ney, and Gabriel “Jack” Chin, a Cal­i­for­nia law pro­fes­sor, will rep­re­sent Liang at sen­tenc­ing and in his ap­peal.

Shecht­man told China Daily on Tues­day that he has be­gun read­ing the tran­scripts of Liang’s trial.

Shecht­man is a part­ner at Zuck­er­man Spaeder LLP, based in New York. A grad­u­ate of Har­vard Law School, he has more than 30 years’ ex­pe­ri­ence in govern­ment ser­vice and pri­vate prac­tice.

He is known for his ap­pel­late work, ac­cord­ing to the firm’s web­site. In 2004, Shecht­man rep­re­sented then-gov­er­nor Ge­orge Pataki in Pataki vs. Sil­ver in the New York Court of Ap­peals. The land­mark case cen­tered on the gov­er­nor’s pow­ers in the bud­get-mak­ing process, and Shecht­man won a rul­ing that “re­solved the dis­pute in the Gov­er­nor’s fa­vor”.

Chin is a teacher and scholar of im­mi­gra­tion law, crim­i­nal pro­ce­dure, and race and law at the Univer­sity of Cal­i­for­nia, Davis. “A” Mag­a­zine named him one of the “25 Most No­table Asians in Amer­ica”.

He and his stu­dents suc­cess­fully worked for the re­peal of anti-Asian land laws that were on the books in Kansas, New Mex­ico and Wy­oming. Ac­cord­ing to the univer­sity web­site, Chin’s work also has been cited by the US Supreme Court.

It is the se­cond time that Liang has switched at­tor­neys. In Novem­ber 2015, he dis­missed his po­lice union-ap­pointed lawyers and hired Robert Brown and Rae Downes Koshetz.

Brown told NBC News that he and Koshetz will file a mo­tion on Wed­nes­day to set aside Liang’s Feb 11 guilty ver­dict.

Many peo­ple in the Chi­nese com­mu­nity have sup­ported Liang, and a hand­ful of or­ga­ni­za­tions have raised money to­ward Liang’s le­gal fees. Brook­lyn Asian Com­mu­ni­ties Em­pow­er­ment and Lin Sing As­so­ci­a­tion alone said they have col­lected more than $650,000.

Com­mu­nity lead­ers also have sought sup­port from other Chi­nese-Amer­i­can lawyers and ex­perts.

Henry Lee, one of the most cel­e­brated foren­sic sci­en­tists in the world, has re­ceived calls from about five dif­fer­ent Chi­nese groups ask­ing him to help Liang.

Lee said he told ev­ery­one that he would be happy to help and would work pro bono.

How­ever, he can only do so if Liang’s at­tor­neys re­quest his help. So far, Lee said nei­ther Liang nor any of his lawyers have con­tacted him.

“Right now I can only morally sup­port him as a Chi­nese Amer­i­can,” Lee told China Daily.

Lee said more foren­sic work should have been done, but de­clined to speak fur­ther due to his pos­si­ble fu­ture in­volve­ment in the case.

Liang is sched­uled to be sen­tenced on April 14, when he faces up to 15 years in prison for the shoot­ing death of Akai Gur­ley in 2014.

Liang, a rookie NYPD of­fi­cer, dis­charged his gun in a dark­ened stair­well of a Brook­lyn hous­ing pro­ject dur­ing a ver­ti­cal pa­trol, and the ric­o­cheted bul­let fa­tally struck Gur­ley, a 28-yearold African-Amer­i­can man, on a lower floor.

Liang was the first NYPD of­fi­cer to be con­victed of killing a civil­ian since 2005.

On Feb 20, tens of thou­sands of mem­bers of the Chi­nese com­mu­nity held ral­lies in more than 40 cities across the United States to protest the ver­dict.

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