Update: The Yatyu Yam Case
This past spring I wrote about the case of NYPD detective Yatyu Yam, accused by prosecutors of bribery and official misconduct charges relating to allegations he tipped off the owners of karaoke bars in Queens in exchange for cash bribes. NYPL § 200.11, NYPL § 105.10(1), NYPL § 200.25, NYPL § 195.00(1), NYPL § 195.05 and NYPL § 105.00. What was particularly odious about this case was what occurred upon Detective Yam’s arrest: instead of being processed and brought before a judge to be arraigned, Detective Yam was taken to a secret hotel room where he was interrogated for hours without counsel present, in violation of Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436, 444 (1966). When he did ask for an attorney – his union lawyer – he was told to instead hire a private lawyer out of the Yellow Pages, as an NYPD sergeant and captain told him that they were concerned Yam’s union lawyer would steer him away from cooperating in the case. This order came, as tapes of the interrogation revealed – from the very Assistant District Attorney who was prosecuting Detective Yam.
As I have written previously, and as the top criminal defense attorneys in New York know, there are many ways to win a case: sometimes by taking the case to trial and getting an acquittal – or in other instances, fighting the case through investigation and motion work in order to get the government to give you an acceptable plea offer which they previously had refused. And that is exactly what occurred here: for months we had been attempting to get a misdemeanor plea offer in this case with a conditional discharge – i.e. no probation, no jail time. The prosecutors refused our demand and the case trudged towards what appeared to be an inevitable trial which came with some major risk: my client was facing 15 years in prison should he be convicted. By the time the smoke cleared yesterday, Detective Yam was permitted to plead guilty to a misdemeanor charge and received the conditional discharge we had requested. How did it occur? By putting the prosecution in a position where they had no realistic choice but to give in to our demands. Continue reading