BROOKLYN – Federal Judge Nicholas Garaufis has recused himself from William Lopez’s $124 million lawsuit against New York City for his wrongful conviction in a 1988 Brooklyn murder.
Lopez ended up serving 22 years in prison for a murder he did not commit. He was convicted of killing Elvirn Surria in a crack house in the Brighton Beach section of Brooklyn in in 1988.
The case will instead be heard by Judge Dora Irizarry. Garaufis freed the wrongfully convicted man from prison. He came down hard on the Brooklyn district attorney’s office for the 1988 prosecution of William Lopez, and told the Daily News the case “rotten from day one…The prosecutor’s evidence was flimsy to begin with and has since been reduced to rubble by facts arising after the trial,” Garaufis said when he ordered Lopez to be released in 2013.
When Lopez filed a lawsuit in Brooklyn Federal Court on June 13, it was assigned to “Garaufis by a computer system that distributes cases randomly, said Eugene Corcoran, a spokesman for the Eastern
District of New York. Judges do not reveal their reason for recusal, but Garaufis’ strongly stated views clearly might have been a problem for the defendants — two detectives, two Brooklyn prosecutors and the city,” according to The News.