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Donald Glassman

Other New York Exonerations With Inadequate Legal Defense
On October 31, 2006, 36-year-old Donald Glassman, an archivist at Barnard College in New York City, was falsely accused by his wife of holding her down and forcing himself upon her that morning. He was immediately arrested and charged with first-degree rape and assault.
After more than 100 hours behind bars, he was released on bail. Two weeks later, his accuser testified to a grand jury that Glassman had non-forcibly imposed sexual relations on her, not on October 31st, but on an indefinite date in September.
He went on trial in New York County Supreme Court in October 2007. His accuser testified that he had raped and assaulted her. Glassman, who had been fired from his $50,200-a-year job by Barnard because of the accusations, wanted to and intended to testify, but his attorney, Howard L. Blau, decided on his own to rest the case without calling Glassman or presenting any other evidence.
There was no physical or forensic evidence in the case. Glassman was convicted by a jury on October 17, 2007 of rape in the third degree and two misdemeanor counts of prohibited contact, and was acquitted of the assault charge.
After the conviction, Glassman fired Blau and retained new counsel, Robert Feldman, to try to get a new trial. Glassman switched to another lawyer because Glassman was advised that Feldman would have to testify in post-trial proceedings, which he did. The new lawyer brought a motion for a new trial, alleging that Blau failed to explain to Glassman that he had the final say on whether to testify.
On July 23, 2008, New York County Supreme Court Justice Daniel FitzGerald granted the motion for a new trial, noting Blau's inexperience in criminal cases. “I am convinced this man has really no criminal experience,” FitzGerald said. “I don’t think he truly was familiar with the defendant’s right to testify.”
The judge said Blau’s decision to rest his case without calling Glassman “was a precipitous and personal decision of Mr. Blau himself without really conferring with the defendant.”
Glassman went on trial a second time—this time without a jury—and testified in his own defense. He denied raping his then-wife (they had divorced). He testified that he believed she had been coached by a relative to concoct the charges because she was an immigrant from the Dominican Republic and wanted to obtain a fast-track green card pursuant to the Violence against Women Act.
On February 11, 2009, Glassman was acquitted of all charges by Justice John Cataldo of New York County Supreme Court.
Blau was suspended from practice of law in February 2008 after misappropriating nearly $764,000 from client funds. He was disbarred after continuing to practice despite the suspension. In May 2010, Blau was ordered to pay Glassman nearly $500,000 in a malpractice lawsuit. Ultimately, the judgment was not paid. Blau declared bankruptcy and the judgment was discharged.
Glassman also filed a federal civil rights lawsuit seeking compensation, but the lawsuit was dismissed.

In October, 2012, Blau pleaded guilty to two felonies--one count of grand larceny in the second degree and one count of engaging in a scheme to defraud in the first degree. He was sentenced to 18 months to 4.5 years in prison. Blau was paroled in March 2014 after serving the minimum 18 months in prison.
Glassman was admitted to Brooklyn Law School in 2010 and graduated in 2014. In May 2015, he was admitted to the New York State Bar.
Glassman ultimately sued Feldman claiming that Feldman refused to return part of a $30,000 retainer. Feldman denied Glassman was due any money. The litigation stretched on for years and took on an added dimension when another client of Feldman's filed a complaint against Feldman on a website called RipoffReport. Wrongly assuming that Glassman was the author, Feldman responded online by calling Glassman a "total a--hole," a "tragedy," and "emotionally disturbed." Feldman also said Glassman had been convicted of rape, but did not mention the acquittal. Glassman filed a defamation suit and both cases were consolidated.
In November 2019, a Manhattan jury awarded Glassman $280,000 in damages from Feldman: $10,000 for breach of contract, $20,000 for malpractice and $250,000 in punitive damages for defamation and intentional infliction of emotional distress.
In March 2022, Judge Louis Nock, after considering post-trial motions for more than two years, upheld the verdict and increased the award for pain and suffering by an additional $120,000.
Meanwhile, more than 13 years after Glassman filed an ethics complaint against Feldman, the New York State Grievance Committee, which addresses complaints against attorneys, had taken no action.
– Maurice Possley


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Posting Date: 10/4/2012
Last Updated: 3/31/2022
State:New York
County:New York
Most Serious Crime:Sexual Assault
Additional Convictions:
Reported Crime Date:2006
Sentence:Not sentenced
Age at the date of reported crime:36
Contributing Factors:Perjury or False Accusation, Inadequate Legal Defense
Did DNA evidence contribute to the exoneration?:No