By Christopher Zoukis

Daniel Gristwood was a 29-year-old printer when he was arrested for the attempted murder of his wife on January 12, 1996. He initially confessed to the crime, and was convicted in New York state court based on that confession. Gristwood was sentenced to 12.5 years to 25 years in prison.

During his prison term, Gristwood recanted his confession, claiming that it had been coerced. And in 2003, another person confessed to the crime. Gristwood’s conviction was subsequently vacated in 2005, and he was freed from prison.

Gristwood hired Syracuse attorneys William F. Lynn, Thomas F. Shannon, and Patricia A. Lynn-Ford of the Lynn Law Firm and sued the State of New York for wrongful prosecution. He claimed that his confession, which was the result of a 16 hour interrogation during a 36 hour period of no sleep, was coerced. His experts testified that the length of the interrogation, lack of food and water, and lack of sleep all rendered the confession bogus. The prosecutor who tried the criminal case also testified that without the confession, there would have been no case.

Gristwood’s expert psychologist testified that during his nine years of incarceration, Gristwood suffered from anxiety, depression and PTSD, all of which had “catastrophic” psychological effects. On April 4, 2013, Judge Nicholas V. Midey found for Gristwood and awarded him $332,400 in past lost earnings, $100,000 in cost of psychological treatment, $432,394 in impairment of future earnings, $2,700,000 in past anguish and loss of liberty, and $1,920,000 in pain and suffering. The total amount awarded to Gristwood for his wrongful conviction totaled $5,485,394.

See: Gristwood v. State of New York, Court of Claims, Syracuse Division, Case No. 114040.

Originally published in Criminal Legal News on October 24, 2017.

About Christopher Zoukis, MBA

Christopher Zoukis, MBA, is the Managing Director of the Zoukis Consulting Group, a federal prison consultancy that assists attorneys, federal criminal defendants, and federal prisoners with prison preparation, in-prison matters, and reentry. His books include Directory of Federal Prisons (Middle Street Publishing, 2020), Federal Prison Handbook (Middle Street Publishing, 2017), Prison Education Guide (PLN Publishing, 2016), and College for Convicts: The Case for Higher Education in American Prisons (McFarland & Company, 2014).