Justia New York Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries

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Defendant was arrested after striking a marked New York City police vehicle. After he was arrested, Defendant consented to a breathalyzer test, which resulted in a reading below the 0.08 minimum required for a per se violation. Defendant was not given a physical coordination test on the basis of a language barrier. Defendant was subsequently charged with driving while impaired and driving while intoxicated. Criminal Court granted Defendant’s motion to dismiss, concluding that the New York Police Department (NYPD) violated Defendant’s constitutional rights by failing to offer a physical coordination test on the basis of a language barrier. The Appellate Term reversed. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding (1) because the NYPD policy withstands rational basis review, Defendant’s equal protection claim must be rejected; and (2) given the substantial State interests involved, Defendant’s due process claim must be rejected. View "People v. Aviles" on Justia Law

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In 2013, the Orange County Department of General Services issued a request for proposals (RFP) from companies to provide transportation of children receiving preschool special education services in three transportation zones in the County. ACME Bus Corp. (ACME), which held the contract at the time, submitted two alternative proposals. Orange County awarded transportation contracts for the first two zones to Quality Bus Service, LLC and for the third zone to VW Trans, LLC. ACME subsequently commenced this proceeding against the County, Quality, and VW, seeking to vacate the award of the contracts. Supreme Court dismissed the proceeding. The Court of Appeals reversed, holding that the County’s scoring mechanism in the cost category deviated from the formula stated in the RFP, and therefore, its award was arbitrary and capricious. View "ACME Bus Corp. v. Orange County" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs sued Defendants in a New York state court for concealing ill-gotten money from a scheme orchestrated by three of Plaintiff’s employees. Defendants moved to dismiss the complaint for lack of personal jurisdiction. Supreme Court granted the motion to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction. The Appellate Division affirmed, concluding that Defendants did not purposefully avail themselves of the privilege of conducting activities in New York. Plaintiffs appealed, alleging that the defendant-bank’s repeated use of New York correspondent accounts to receive and transfer millions of dollars in illicit funds constituted the transaction of business substantially related to their claims against Defendants sufficient to confer personal jurisdiction. Defendants argued in response that personal jurisdiction cannot depend on third party conduct and requires purposeful availment by Defendants that was lacking in this case. The Court of Appeals reversed, holding that Defendants’ use of the correspondent bank accounts was purposeful, that there was an articulable nexus between the business transaction and the claim asserted, and that the maintenance of suit in New York does not offend traditional notions of fair play and substantial justice. View "Rushaid v. Pictet & Cie" on Justia Law

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After a jury trial, Defendant was convicted of three counts of attempted robbery and one count of robbery, among other offenses. The trial court directed the sentence for each attempted robbery count was to run consecutively to the remaining sentences. Defendant subsequently entered an Alford plea to first-degree murder. The Appellate Division modified the judgment of conviction by directing the sentences imposed on the counts of attempted robbery to run concurrently with each other and consecutively to the sentence imposed on the completed robbery, and otherwise affirmed. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding (1) Defendant’s consecutive sentences for robbery and attempted robbery, as modified by the Appellate Division, were lawful; (2) Defendant received effective assistance of counsel; and (3) Defendant’s Alford plea to attempted murder was knowing, intelligent and voluntary. View "People v. Couser" on Justia Law
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At issue in this case was the constitutionality of a Syracuse noise ordinance that prohibits the creation of “unnecessary noise” emanating beyond fifty feet from a motor vehicle operated on a public highway. Defendant was convicted of sound reproduction in violation of the ordinance. The Appellate Division affirmed, holding that the noise ordinance was constitutional. The Appellate Division concluded that while a similar local noise ordinance was held to be void for vagueness in People v. New York Trap Rock Corp., the Syracuse noise ordinance at issue was not unconstitutionally vague. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that the statute does not offend the constitutional void-for-vagueness doctrine of due process. View "People v. Stephens" on Justia Law

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After a jury trial, Defendant was convicted of two counts of murder in the first degree and one count each of burglary in the first degree and robbery in the first degree. The Appellate Division modified by reversing Defendant’s convictions for murder in the second degree, concluding that the People failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that it was reasonably foreseeable that Defendant’s act of unlawfully entering the victim’s apartment and assaulting him would cause the victim’s death by cardiovascular disease. The Court of Appeals modified the order of the Appellate Division, holding there was legally sufficient evidence to support the jury’s findings that the victim’s heart failure, induced by the extreme stress and trauma of Defendant’s violent assault, was a directly foreseeable consequence of Defendant’s conduct. View "People v. Davis" on Justia Law
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Claimant, a former police officer employed by the City of Buffalo, alleged that exposure to asbestos occurred during his employment, later leading to his diagnosis of mesothelioma. Claimant and his wife commenced this proceeding seeking permission to serve a late notice of claim on the City. The City argued, in opposition, that leave should be denied because N.Y. Gen. Mun. Law 207-c provides the exclusive remedy for the alleged work-related remedies. The Appellate Division denied the application. At issue on appeal was whether a police officer who is entitled to receive benefits under section 207-c for a duty-related injury is barred from bringing a claim against his or her employer under N.Y. Gen. Mun. Law 205-e. The Court of Appeals reversed, holding that section 205-e does not bar a lawsuit by a police officer who suffers a line-of-duty injury caused by the employer’s statutory or regulatory violations when that police officer is employed by a municipality that has elected not to provide coverage pursuant to the Workers’ Compensation Law. View "Diegelman v. City of Buffalo" on Justia Law

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Mother retained counsel to represent her in her efforts to obtain child support from Father. The support magistrate entered a support order against Father in the amount of $236 per week. A different magistrate subsequently modified the support order, reducing Father’s child support obligation to $25 per month. Family Court mailed the orders and accompanying findings of fact directly to Mother but did not mail the documents to Mother’s lawyer. Forty-one days after the orders were mailed by Family Court, Mother, through counsel, filed objections. Family Court denied Mother’s objections as untimely and confirmed and continued the Support Magistrate’s orders. The Appellate Division affirmed. The Court of Appeals reversed, holding that if a party is represented by counsel, the time requirements set out in Family Court Act 439(e) for objections to a support magistrate’s final order, when the order is served by mail, do not begin to run until the order is mailed to counsel. View "Odunbaku v. Odunbaku" on Justia Law
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After a jury trial, Defendant was found guilty of charges relating to his sexual abuse of two minor girls. Defendant appealed, arguing that the trial court abused its discretion by allowing the People to elicit evidence of Defendant’s use of crack cocaine while engaging in sexual acts with consenting adult women, which corroborated the testimony of the two minor victims. The Appellate Division affirmed. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that the trial court did not abuse its discretion in admitting evidence of the distinctive manner in which Defendant’s engaged in sexual acts with consenting adult women. View "People v. Brewer" on Justia Law
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Defendant was charged with multiple criminal accounts stemming from the deaths of two people after Defendant drove the wrong way on an interstate while operating his car under the influence. The court found Defendant guilty of two counts of manslaughter in the second degree and vehicular manslaughter in the first degree, among other offenses. The Appellate Division affirmed. Defendant later filed a motion seeking to vacate the judgment of the conviction on the ground that his attorney provided ineffective assistance because counsel mistakenly believed that Defendant’s potential sentences on each count were statutorily required to run consecutively and that no plea offer was conveyed to him as a result of his counsel’s erroneous advice. County Court denied Defendant’s motion. The Appellate Division unanimously affirmed. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding (1) Defendant’s attorney incorrectly advised Defendant that he was subject to mandatory consecutive sentences, but there was no possibility that a reduced plea would have been offered to Defendant; and (2) as to Defendant’s direct appeal, his claim that defense counsel should have put on a different expert to testify as to Defendant’s mental health was without merit. View "People v. Bank" on Justia Law
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