Mr. Phemister has been practicing law in New York since 1998. Since then, he has been fortunate enough to have handled several thousand cases and taken well over a hundred verdicts at trial.
Initially, his practice focused on personal injury but over the years, he began working on cases where people were claiming they were assaulted by the police, or wrongfully arrested and held against their will.
As time went on, Craig began seeing more and more of these cases until he had the eye-opening experience of seeing a judge in New York declare that a man who spent nearly 18 years of his life behind bars was “actually innocent”. The realization that our system was imperfect enough that someone can have 18 years of their life taken from them when they had nothing to do with the crime had a deep impact on his career.
Mr. Phemister began following stories and searching for people who claimed they were wrongfully convicted. He has been shocked to learn how often our investigation into these cases reveals evidence that was hidden from our clients at the time of their trial, or in several cases, witnesses who were coerced by detectives to identify our client, who have since come forward with the truth.
In any field of work, there are honest people and dishonest people – the same applies with police and law enforcement. Our work is to find their victims and ensure they have a voice to prove their innocence.
In February 2019, we filed motion on behalf of John Ramsey, 58, who spent 33 years in prison for a murder he did not commit. The papers, filed in Brooklyn Supreme Court, seek to vacate his 1981 conviction in the murder of a drug dealer in Flatbush.
After arguing in front of the Supreme Court in Kings County (Brooklyn) in October 2019, Judge Leo denied the motion to vacate Mr. Ramsey’s conviction. This decision was made despite the District Attorney’s office admitting to their failure to turn over exculpatory evidence showing that two other people had been identified as the shooters by an actual witness to the crime within an hour of the murder and despite one of the actual shooters now admitting that it was his brother who was with him, not Ramsey.
We have filed an Application for Leave to Appeal, which will be decided by a single judge. If granted, it will permit us to appeal Judge Leo’s decision.
- Bar Admissions
- New York
- United States District Court, Eastern District of New York
- United States District Court, Southern District of New York
- Creighton University of Law, J.D.
- University of Nebraska, B.A.
- Awards and Honors
- 10 Best Attorneys in New York, American Institute of Personal Injury Attorneys (AIOPIA)
- Best Attorneys of America
- Lawyers of Distinction
- The National Trial Lawyer’s: Top 100 Trial Lawyers
- Professional Affiliations
- New York State Trial Lawyers Association
- Media Appearances
- Napoli Shkolnik Client John Ramsey and Michael Vecchione Interview, Morano in the Morning Podcast (February 13, 2019)
- Brooklyn Man Wants Murder Conviction Overturned, WCBS TV News (February 8, 2019)
- Convicted Killer Fights to Clear His Name, WNBC TV News (February 8, 2019)
- John Ramsey, One Step Closer to Freedom, NY1 TV News (February 8, 2019)
- John Ramsey/Craig Phemister Interview, NPR (February 2019)
- John Ramsey’s quest for vindication of a murder he says he didn’t commit 37 years ago, New York Daily News (February 10, 2018)
- Hill Harper speaks out in support of John Ramsey, who claims wrongful imprisonment for ’81 murder, The Grio (February 9, 2019)
- ‘Good Doctor’ actor Hill Harper backs ex-prisoner’s move to overturn conviction, New York Daily News (February 8, 2019)
- Lawyers for Brooklyn man imprisoned for 33 years file motion to overturn conviction; say prosecutors withheld key documents, New York Daily News (February 8, 2019)
- Brooklyn Man Jailed For 1980 Murder Seeks New Trial After Learning He Was Arrested By Mob Cop, New York Daily News Exclusive
- Napoli Shkolnik Pllc Pro Bono Civil Rights Department, Freedom On Wjff Radio Catskill,
- Civil Rights Litigation: False Arrest and Excessive Force Cases
- Wrongful Conviction Cases: What Do We Look For?
- Representative Cases and Settlements of Note
- Worked on several wrongful conviction cases that helped bring attention to the Kings County District Attorney’s Office, the significant amount of corruption that existed and clearly continues to exist at the criminal trial level. Several of the civil cases worked on subsequently resolved for in excess of $10,000,000.00
- People v. Paul Clark— worked with an associate to successfully prompt the Kings County District Attorney’s Office to reopen its investigation into the homicide for which Mr. Clark is currently incarcerated. Mr. Clark was convicted on the basis of an investigation conducted by “mafia cop” Stephen Caracappa.
- United States Air Force Judge Advocate General’s office at Offutt Air Force Base in Omaha, Nebraska, 1 year internship
- Other Experience
- Guest Speaker, Hudson Valley Radio Shows: informational spots to provide information to inmates incarcerated in maximum security prisons
- Golden Gloves Boxer
- Competitive Shooter, Expert Rifle Marksman
- Motocross Competitor
- Pro Bono
Ongoing personal commitment to ensuring indigent clients have access to communication with lawyers and the legal system.