Justia New York Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Constitutional Law

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Defendant was arrested for driving while intoxicated (DWI) and other offenses. The jury convicted Defendant of two counts of DWI. Appellate Term reversed and remitted for a new trial on those counts, concluding that Defendant’s Confrontation Clause rights were violated because the police officer who testified at trial regarding Defendant’s breath test did not personally administer the test, although he did directly observe the test. The Court of Appeals reversed, holding that no Confrontation Clause occurred under the facts of this case because the officer testified based on his own observations and inclusions, rather than as a surrogate for his partner, who administered the test, and none of the nontestifying officer’s hearsay statements were admitted against Defendant. View "People v. Lin" on Justia Law

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After a jury trial, Defendant was convicted of three counts of predatory sexual conduct and three counts of criminal sexual act in the first degree. Defendant was sentenced to twenty-five years’ imprisonment followed by twenty years’ post-release supervision on each of the three counts of criminal sexual act and on each corresponding count of predatory sexual assault. The sentence for the criminal sexual acts was to run concurrently to the sentence for the corresponding predatory sexual assault, with the three pairs of sentences to run consecutively to each other. The Appellate Division affirmed the sentences. Defendant appealed, arguing that his aggregate sentence of seventy-five years violates the Eighth Amendment and N.Y. Const. art. I, 5. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that Defendant failed to preserve for review his claim that his sentence was cruel and unusual. View "People v. Pena" on Justia Law

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Defendant, a dark-complexioned African-American male, was charged with one count of robbery in the first degree and two counts of robbery in the second decree. During voir dire, the prosecutor used a peremptory strike to exclude a dark-complexioned Indian-American woman. Defendant challenged the prosecutor’s use of peremptory strikes to exclude dark-colored women. The courts below held that Defendant failed to make a prima facie showing of discrimination regarding the prosecutor’s use of peremptory strikes. The Court of Appeals reversed, holding (1) skin color of a prospective juror is a cognizable classification to challenge a prosecutor’s use of peremptory strikes under Batson v. Kentucky; and (2) because defense counsel met her prima facie burden by alleging that the prosecutor was excluding dark-colored prospective female jurors, and the prosecutor did not give a non-discriminatory reason for excluding the dark-complexioned Indian-American woman, the trial court committed reversible error by not seating the juror. View "People v. Bridgeforth" on Justia Law

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After a jury trial, Defendant was convicted of criminal possession of a weapon in the second degree. Defendant was sentenced as a persistent violent felony offender to twenty years to life in prison. The Appellate Division vacated Defendant’s sentence and remitted for sentencing because the sentencing court improperly considered as a basis for sentencing a crime that was dismissed for lack of legally sufficient evidence. At resentencing, Supreme Court again sentenced Defendant to an indeterminate term of twenty years to life. Defendant appealed, arguing that the court again improperly considered the dismissed counts and that his counsel had been ineffective for failing to object to the court’s failure to impose a lesser sentence than it originally imposed. The Appellate Division affirmed. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding (1) the sentencing court’s reimposition of an identical sentence did not indicate that it relied on improper criteria; and (2) defense counsel’s failure to challenge Defendant’s resentencing did not render his performance constitutionally deficient. View "People v. Flowers" on Justia Law

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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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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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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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Respondent was riding his bicycle against the flow of traffic on a one-way street when officers stopped him. Respondent told the officers he was sixteen years old. The police arrested Respondent and transported him to the precinct, where Respondent told law enforcement that he was only fifteen years old. Thereafter, the officers placed Respondent in a juvenile room and instructed him to remove his belt, shoelaces, and shoes as a protective measure. A revolver was recovered from one of the shoes. The presentment agency filed a juvenile delinquency petition charging Respondent with various weapon possession counts. Respondent filed a motion to suppress. Family Court denied the motion, concluding that the police had probable cause to arrest Respondent for disorderly conduct and that the seizure of the gun was legal because the officers were justified in having Respondent remove his shoes as part of protocol to ensure a detainee’s safety. The Appellate Division reversed, concluding that the search that uncovered the weapon from Respondent’s shoe was unreasonable. The Court of Appeals reversed, holding (1) the officers’ initial arrest of Respondent was lawful where the officers believed he was sixteen years old at the time; and (2) the subsequent search of Respondent’s shoes was reasonable. View "In re Jamal S." on Justia Law

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The question underlying these proceedings was whether the State must consider and pay claims submitted after the effective date of the legislative deadline for pre-2006 reimbursement claims set forth in Section 61 of the 2012 amendment to the Medicaid Cap Statute, which provides that no reimbursement claims shall be made for a category of Medicaid disability expenses paid by counties to the State prior to 2006. In these appeals, the latest round in a decade-long struggle between the counties and the State over Medicaid payments, several counties challenged the constitutionality of Section 61. The Court of Appeals held (1) Section 61 is constitutional; and (2) the State is under no obligation to address outstanding county reimbursement claims filed after April 1, 2012, and the State is not required to initiate an administrative review of its records to identify and pay for any pre-2006 claims. View "County of Chemung v. Shah" on Justia Law

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Steven Glickman, a candidate for the office of New York State Senator, filed a petition seeking an order validating designating petitions naming him as a candidate in the September 13, 2016 Primary Election. Three objectors filed a petition seeking an order invalidating the designating petitions. Supreme Court invalidated the petitions, concluding that Glickman did not meet New York’s five-year constitutional residency requirement as a matter of law. The Appellate Division reversed and validated the petitions. The Court of Appeals reversed, holding that Glickman could not claim New York residency for the past five years as required by the New York Constitution, and therefore, Supreme Court properly invalidated the designating petitions on that basis. View "Glickman v. Laffin" on Justia Law