Justia New York Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries

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The New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) placed liens upon property for reimbursement of relocation expenses pursuant to Administrative Code 26-305. The two petitioners in these consolidated appeals filed petitions seeking to summarily vacate the liens, alleging that the liens were invalid. Supreme Court dismissed the petitions, concluding that summary discharge was inappropriate because determination of the lien’s underlying validity was a matter for a foreclosure trial. Both judgments were appealed. In one case, the Appellate Division reversed, holding that the notice of lien was facially invalid and should be discharged because the notice of lien sought an unreasonable amount of expenses. The Court of Appeals reversed in that case and affirmed in the other case, holding that the liens filed by HPD here were facially valid, and so summary discharge was not appropriate. View "Rivera v. Department of Housing Preservation & Development of the City of New York" on Justia Law

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After a jury trial, Defendant was convicted of burglary in the first degree, assault in the second degree, and criminal possession of a weapon in the second degree. Defendant appealed, arguing that he was deprived of a fair trial by the People’s PowerPoint presentation during summation and alleging ineffective assistance of counsel. The Appellate Division affirmed the judgment. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that Defendant was not deprived of a fair trial because the trial court took prompt corrective action to ensure that they jury was not being misled, and the trial court gave strong instructions concerning summation. View "People v. Williams" on Justia Law
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After a jury trial, Defendant was convicted of attempted murder in the second degree and criminal possession of a weapon in the second degree. Defendant appealed, arguing that the prosecutor’s use of PowerPoint slides during summation deprived him of a fair trial and that defense counsel was ineffective for failing to object to the use of the slides. The Appellate Division affirmed the judgment. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that, given the parameters of the permissible use of the PowerPoint slides at issue, counsel was not ineffective for failing to object. View "People v. Anderson" on Justia Law

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After a jury trial, Defendant was convicted of manslaughter in the first degree. The Appellate Division reversed, concluding that the trial court erred in instructing the jury on the initial aggressor exception to justification. The Court of Appeals reversed, holding that there was a reasonable view of the evidence that Defendant was the initial aggressor in the use of deadly physical force, and therefore, the trial court did not commit reversible error by including an initial aggressor exception in its justification charge. Remitted to the Appellate Division for consideration of the issues raised but not determined on appeal to that court. View "People v. Valentin" on Justia Law
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Defendant was charged in both Queens and Richmond Counties with committing numerous sex offenses against four children. Defendant pleaded guilty. When Defendant’s release date was approaching, the Board of Examiners of Sex Offenders prepared a case summary and risk assessment instrument (RAI) as required by the Sex Offender Registration Act (SORA). The Board did not recommend any points under risk factor seven, entitled “relationship with victim.” At the SORA hearing, the court assessed twenty points under risk factor seven and ultimately assessed Defendant a total of 125 points, rendering him a presumptive risk level three. The Appellate Division affirmed, concluding that Supreme Court did not err in assessing points under risk factor seven. The Court of Appeals reversed, holding that the lower courts erred in assessing twenty points under risk factor seven. View "People v. Cook" on Justia Law

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Defendant committed multiple sexual offenses against four children in both Queens and Richmond Counties. Prosecution was coordinated between the two District Attorneys’ offices on both counties, and Defendant pleaded guilty in both counties. Later, in anticipation of Defendant’s scheduled release, the Richmond County sentencing court conducted a Sex Offender Registration Act (SORA) risk assessment hearing and adjudicated Defendant a level III, sexually violent offender. Shortly thereafter, the Queens County sentencing court held a SORA hearing and adjudicated Defendant a level III, sexually violent offender. Defendant appealed, arguing that the Queens County adjudication was not authorized by statute and was barred by res judicata. The Appellate Division reversed the Queens County SORA court’s order denying Defendant’s motion to dismiss the SORA risk assessment hearing, concluding (1) only one SORA “disposition” may be made per “Current Offense” or group of “Current Offenses”; and (2) the doctrine of res judicata barred the Queens County SORA proceedings. View "People v. Cook" on Justia Law
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Plaintiff was working as an employee of DCM Erectors at the 1 World Trade Center construction site when he received a workplace injury. Plaintiff commenced this action against the owner of the premises and the general contractor, alleging violations of N.Y. Labor Law 240(1) and 241(6). Supreme Court denied the parties’ cross-motions for summary judgment on Plaintiff’s section 240(1) claim but granted Plaintiff’s motion for partial summary judgment on the section 241(6) claim. The Appellate Division modified the order by granting Plaintiff’s motion for partial summary judgment on the section 240(1) claim and denying Plaintiff summary judgment on the section 241(6) claim. The Court of Appeals modified the order of the Appellate Division by denying Plaintiff’s motion insofar as it sought summary judgment not he issue of liability on his section 240(1) claim, holding that there were triable issues of fact that precluded summary judgment. View "O'Brien v. Port Authority of New York & New Jersey" on Justia Law

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After a nonjury trial, Defendant was found guilty of intentional murder and two counts of burglary in the first degree. The trial court, upon resentencing, sentenced Defendant to a term of imprisonment of fifty-four years to life, with the concurrent sentences on the two burglary convictions imposed consecutively to his sentence on the intentional murder conviction. The Appellate Division affirmed. At issue before the Court of appeals was whether consecutive sentences are authorized under N.Y. Penal Law 70.25(2)** for Defendant’s burglary and intentional murder convictions. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that, under the circumstances of this case, it cannot be said as a matter of law that the conduct resulting in Defendant’s conviction of intentional murder and the conduct underlying the elements of the burglary convictions was a single act for consecutive sentencing purposes. View "People v. Brahney" on Justia Law
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After a jury trial, Defendant was convicted of attempted robbery in the first degree. At issue on appeal was whether the evidence was legally sufficient to establish that Defendant’s conduct amounted to displaying what appeared to be a firearm. The Appellate Division affirmed. The Court of Appeals also affirmed, holding that the jury could have found beyond a reasonable doubt that, under all the circumstances, Defendant’s conduct could reasonably have led the victim to believe that a gun was being used during the robbery, and therefore, the evidence was sufficient to support the conviction. View "People v. Smith" on Justia Law
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Defendant was convicted of predatory sexual assault and criminal sexual act in the first degree. Before trial, the trial court gave the People permission to question Defendant about the fact that Defendant had been adjudicated a juvenile delinquent, pursuant to People v. Sandoval, but not the facts underlying the adjudication. Also prior to trial, Defendant signed a waiver attesting that he gave up his right to be present during sidebar discussions with prospective jurors and/or discussions of law. On appeal, the Appellate Division affirmed, concluding that the Sandoval ruling on the juvenile delinquency adjudication was harmless error and that Defendant validly waived his right to be present at sidebar conferences. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding (1) Defendant’s challenge to the Sandoval ruling was unpreserved; and (2) Defendant’s claim that he was denied his right to be present at a sidebar conference regarding the potential bias of a prospective juror is not reviewable, as Defendant waived his right. View "People v. Jackson" on Justia Law
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