Appellate Division Affirms Order Granting a New Parole Hearing to OAD Client

OAD client Niki Rossakis was convicted in 1996 of second-degree murder in connection with the shooting death of her husband, whom she maintained had abused her for years and was threatening her at the time of the shooting. Despite the fact that she had no prior criminal record, she was initially sentenced to a term of 23 years to life imprisonment, which was later reduced on appeal to 15 years to life imprisonment. Ms. Rossakis has an exemplary institutional record. She has obtained two associate’s degrees, served on the inmate grievance committee, completed all rehabilitative programming available to her, and earned praise for her work as a telephone operator.  Yet the Parole Board  repeatedly denied her parole, focusing almost exclusively on the serious nature of the crime. After her administrative appeals were denied, OAD successfully filed a petition challenging the Parole Board’s action. The Board then appealed the Supreme Court decision, which found that the Board had acted arbitrarily in denying parole and failing to give proper consideration to the range of statutory factors it was supposed to consider. In a unanimous decision, the First Department affirmed the lower court’s order requiring the Board to give Ms. Rossakis a new parole hearing at which the appropriate factors must be considered. Ms. Rossakis was previously represented by former OAD Attorney-in-Charge Richard M. Greenberg, and she is currently represented by Eunice C. Lee. To read the decision, click here.