Peter Neufeld, a nationally recognized civil-rights lawyer, has spent over thirty-five years trying cases on behalf of victims of police misconduct and wrongful convictions. Peter’s unflinching commitment to his clients has led to numerous substantial verdicts and settlements and caused systemic criminal-justice reforms.
Litigating civil-rights cases in trial and appellate courts nationwide, including the U.S. Supreme Court, Peter has pioneered key legal theories. For example, Peter represented Earl Washington,
Jr., a man with mild mental retardation who spent 17 years in prison—9 of them on death row—for a rape and murder that DNA proved he did not commit. Peter showed that a state police officer had caused Washington’s wrongful conviction by first feeding him information about the crime that only the true perpetrator would know, and then falsely claiming this nonpublic information had originated with Washington. After Peter argued the appeal, the Fourth Circuit agreed that the investigator could be held legally responsible for fabricating Washington’s false confession. A substantial verdict for Mr. Washington followed. The Fourth Circuit fabricated confession theory was then adopted by other federal circuits. The Washington case also led to an audit of the Virginia state crime lab and the prosecution of the true perpetrator.
In addition to his civil-rights practice at NSB, Peter, along with NSB partner Barry Scheck, cofounded and co-directs The Innocence Project at the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law. The Innocence Project has been responsible in whole or in part for exonerating most of the over 300 men and women to be cleared through post-conviction DNA testing.
On topics including flawed forensic science and the causes of wrongful convictions and remedies, Peter has testified frequently before Congress and state legislatures, taught programs for judges and lawyers, and lectured to legal and scientific organizations across the country and abroad. Peter also taught trial advocacy for several years at Fordham University Law School. Prior to entering private practice, Peter was a staff attorney for many years with The Legal Aid Society in the Bronx.
- New York University School of Law, J.D., 1975
- University of Wisconsin, B.A., 1972
Selected Recent Honors & Awards
- New York State Bar Association Gold Medal (2013)
- National Trial Lawyers Association President’s Lifetime Achievement Award (2012)
- Thomas Jefferson Foundation Medal in Law (2009)
- Norman S. Ostrow Award, New York Counsel of Defense Lawyers (2007)
- The University of Virginia School of Law, William J. Brennan, Jr. Award (2006)
- 100 Best Lawyers (2005)
- Trial Lawyers for Public Justice, Trial Lawyer of the Year Finalist (2002)
- Named one of the 100 Best Lawyers in America over several years
- Numerous honorary degrees
Memberships & Associations
- Board of Trustees, Montefiore Medical Center
- Board of Overseers, Albert Einstein School of Medicine
- Boardof Trustees, The Abelard Foundation
- Commissioner, New York State Commission on Forensic Science
- Jim Dwyer, Peter Neufeld, Barry Scheck, Actual Innocence: Five Days to Execution, and Other Dispatches From the Wrongly Convicted (2000).
- Peter Neufeld, Barry Scheck, and Taryn Simon. The Innocents. New York: Umbrage Editions in association with The Innocence Project, (2003)
- Peter Neufeld, The (Near) Irrelevance of Daubert to Criminal Justice and Some Suggestions for Reform, American Journal of Public Health, June 2005
- S.A. Crowley & Peter Neufeld, (2013). Increasing the Accuracy of Criminal Justice Decision-Making. In Phillip H. Crowley & Thomas R. Zentall (Eds.), Comparative Decision Making. USA: Oxford University Press
- B.L. Garrett & Peter Neufeld, “Invalid Forensic Science Testimony and Wrongful Convictions,” Virginia Law Review, Vol. 95, No. 1, March 2009.
- R.A. Leo, S.A. Drizin, Peter Neufeld, B.R. Hall & A. Vatner, “Bringing Reliability Back In: False Confessions and Legal Safeguards in the Twenty-First Century,” Wisconsin Law Review, Vol. 2006, No. 2.