New York Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) nominated a judge to lead the state’s Supreme Court who tossed a physical violation conviction because of a delay in getting DNA evidence.
Rowan Wilson has been nominated to become New York chief judge by Gov. Hochul. Caitlin Halligan nominated for associate judge.
— Nick Reisman (@NickReisman) April 10, 2023
State of Appeals Associate Judge Rowan D. Wilson wrote the majority opinion abandoning the conviction that imprisoned Andrew Regan for 12 years for violating a woman in her bed, despite conceding that the ruling would set the precedent that guilty individuals will not receive punishments or carry out a full prison sentence.
The victim called Wilson’s decision “devastating,” saying she has fears for her safety. “I would ask [Wilson] if he would make the same decision if it was his daughter who was the victim, because I bet he wouldn’t,” she added.
At the time, the victim was 22 years old and was drinking with her boyfriend and a couple after a wedding reception in 2009. Upon returning home and going to bed, she woke up in the middle of the night to find Regan violating her.
Regan’s weight was physically damaging her, making her unable to move. When he saw she was awake, he got off of her. She then went to get her boyfriend, who was on the outside porch making a call.
The victim’s boyfriend called a friend to escort the couple out of the home. He also called his girlfriend’s parents, who drove her to the hospital, where a nurse analyzed her body. Cops arrived at the hospital, and the victim reported the incident.
Authorities questioned Regan, 42, a former Army sergeant and war veteran, and he denied having an intimate relationship with the girl but told them “He wished he had.”
Regan’s case got delayed for more than three years until November 2012, when a warrant was submitted, and Regan’s DNA was finally accepted. The victim said Regan was free and living in the same town as her, where she occasionally saw him at restaurants and stores.
On Feb. 23, 2015, six years after the incident, a 12-person jury convicted Regan of violating the girl, granting him a 12-year prison sentence.
The victim said new investigators were assigned to her case several times. Prosecutors told her various times they hadn’t gotten Regan’s DNA.
“I was frustrated that nobody was doing anything and that nothing was happening,” she said. “I felt like I wasn’t being taken seriously.”
On March 16, 2015, Regan appealed his conviction. A six-member Court of Appeals overturned his sentence in a 4-2 ruling, citing “inexplicable delays” that violated Regan’s right to a speedy trial, leading to his release from prison.
In the majority opinion, Wilson argued that the decision would protect “vital societal interest” and that the legal system must motivate “prosecutors to take crime seriously and give all parties the prompt closure they need to move on with their lives.”
If Wilson is confirmed, he would be New York’s first Black chief judge, giving Democrats a 4-3 majority in the state Supreme Court.