Justia New York Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries

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In this N.Y. C.P.L.R. 78 proceeding, the Court of Appeals held that Tax Appeals Tribunal of the State of New York (the Tribunal) rationally determined that the information services receipts at issue in this case were not excluded from the sales tax imposed by N.Y. Tax Law 1105(c)(1). Tax law 1105(c)(1) imposes sales tax on certain information services but excludes the furnishing of information that is personal or individual in nature. The New York State Department of Taxation and Finance (the Department) conducted an audit of the sales and use tax liability of Wegmans Food Markets, Inc., a regional supermarket chain, and determined that Wegmans's purchases of competitive price audits (CPAs) of its competitors and corresponding reports from RetailData, LLC were taxable receipts under Tax Law 1105(c)(1). Accordingly, the Department imposed additional sales tax. Wegmans petitioned the Division of Tax Appeals, arguing that RetailData's services qualified as an exempt information service that was personal and individual in nature. An ALJ denied the petition. The Tribunal affirmed. The Appellate Division annulled the Tribunal's determination, concluding that the tax exclusion applied. The Court of Appeals reversed, holding that the information RetailData furnished to Wegmans was not personal or individual in nature. View "In re Wegmans Food Markets, Inc. v. Tax Appeals Tribunal of State of New York" on Justia Law

Posted in: Tax Law

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The Court of Appeals affirmed the order of the Appellate Division reversing the judgment of County County convicting Defendant, a level three sex offender, of failing to register his Facebook account, concluding that Facebook is not an "internet identifier" and that the existence of a Facebook account need not be disclosed to the Division of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS) pursuant to N.Y. Corp. Law 168-f(4). Pursuant to section 168-a(18), "internet identifiers" are defined as "electronic mail addresses and designations used for purposes of chat, instant messaging, social networking or other similar internet communication." The People argued that Defendant was required to register his Facebook account as an "internet identifier" pursuant to section 168-f(4). The Appellate Division concluded that a Facebook account is not an "internet identifier" that Defendant must disclose to DCJS. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that that Facebook is not an "internet identifier" and that the existence of a Facebook account - as opposed to the internet identifiers a sex offender may use to access Facebook or interact with other users on Facebook - need not be disclosed to DCJS pursuant to section 168-f(4). View "People v. Ellis" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Court of Appeals accepted a question certified to it by the United States Court of Appeals and answered that if an entered divorce judgment grants a spouse an interest in real property pursuant to N.Y. Dom. Rel. Law 236, and the spouse does not docket the divorce judgment in the county where the property is located, the spouse's interest is not subject to attachment by a subsequent judgment creditor that has docketed its judgment and seeks to execute against the property. A judgment creditor sought to execute against property that, in a divorce settlement, was to be sold and Wife was to receive a portion of the proceeds. The judgment creditor argued that, because it docketed its judgment before Wife docketed her judgment of divorce, the creditor had priority over Wife with respect to the property. The federal district court concluded that the judgment of divorce did not transform Wife into a judgment creditor of Husband but, rather, worked an equitable distribution of their marital assets. The federal court of appeals certified a question of law to the Court of Appeals, which held that the divorce judgment did not render Wife a judgment creditor of Husband, and therefore, Wife was not subject to the docketing requirements of N.Y. C.P.L.R. 5203. View "Pangea Capital Management, LLC v. Lakian" on Justia Law

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The Court of Appeals reversed the order of the Appellate Division affirming Defendant's conviction, holding that the People violated their constitutional obligation to disclose a surveillance video that captured the scene at the time of the shooting, and there was a reasonable probability that the disclosure of the video would have produced a different result at trial. Defendant was convicted of murder for shooting Ruben Alexandre outside an apartment building. The surveillance video of the scene in this case included images of the victim and a key prosecution witness. After receiving the video, Defendant moved to vacate his conviction, arguing that the People's failure to disclose the video violated their obligations under Brady v. Maryland, 373 U.S. 83 (1963). The trial court denied the motion. The Appellate Division affirmed. The Court of Appeals reversed, holding that where the video was withheld from the defense and the jury was told it did not exist, the aggregate effect of the suppression of the evidence undermined confidence in the verdict, and therefore, Defendant was entitled to a new trial. View "People v. Ulett" on Justia Law

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The Court of Appeals reversed the decision of the Appellate Division reversing the judgment of Supreme Court granting summary judgment in favor of Plaintiffs, individual tenants of rented apartments owned by Defendants, on their complaint seeking a declaration that their apartments were subject to rent stabilization, holding that apartments in buildings receiving tax benefits pursuant to N.Y. Real Prop. Tax law (RPTL) 421-g are not subject to luxury deregulation. Plaintiffs' apartments were located in building receiving tax benefits subject to RPTL 421-g. Defendants argued that Plaintiffs' apartments were exempt from rent regulation under the luxury deregulation provisions added to the Rent Stabilization Law (RSL), Administrative Code of City of New York 26-504.1, as part of the Rent Regulation Reform Act of 1993. The Appellate Division agreed and granted Defendants' motions for summary judgment to the extent of declaring that Plaintiffs' apartments were properly deregulated and were not subject to rent stabilization. The Court of Appeals reversed, holding that Plaintiffs' apartments were not subject to the luxury deregulation provisions of the RSL. View "Kuzmich v. 50 Murray St. Acquisition LLC" on Justia Law

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The Court of Appeals affirmed Defendant's conviction of first-degree rape, holding that Defendant did not carry his burden of demonstrating ineffective assistance of counsel and that, even if erroneous, the introduction of DNA evidence was harmless. On appeal, Defendant argued (1) his trial counsel provided ineffective assistance by failing to review or comprehend the significance of surveillance video evidence contradicting his grand jury testimony of a consensual sexual encounter with the victim, and (2) the trial court violated his Sixth Amendment rights by admitting DNA evidence at trial because the analyst who testified at trial did not generate the DNA profile taken from Defendant's buccal swab. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding (1) defense counsel provided meaningful representation; and (2) because the DNA evidence did not go to the determinative issue of consent, any error in admitting it was harmless. View "People v. Lopez-Mendoza" on Justia Law

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The Court of Appeals affirmed Defendant's conviction of second-degree burglary and petit larceny, holding that defense counsel did not provide ineffective assistance by advancing a jury nullification defense at trial. On appeal, Defendant argued that his trial counsel was ineffective because he exclusively pursued a jury nullification defense to the exclusion of other viable defenses. The Appellate Division affirmed, concluding that defense counsel pursued a reasonable strategy and provided meaningful representation. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that the record of counsel's performance demonstrated that Defendant failed to sustain his burden that he was deprived of meaningful representation. View "People v. Mendoza" on Justia Law

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The Court of Appeals reversed the decision of the Appellate Division affirming the judgment of Supreme Court holding that the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) violated section 71 of the Civil Service Law by refusing to reinstate Petitioner to her labor class caretaker position after terminating her, holding that Petitioner did not fall with the ambit of N.Y. Civ. Serv. Law 71, a provision governing reinstatement of public sector employees injured on the job. Petitioner's petition fell within the "labor class" - one of four classifications under New York's Civil Service Law - which includes "all unskilled laborers" in the State's service. NYCHA terminated Petitioner after she missed more than one year of work due to a disability. Petitioner requested reinstatement, but NYCHA refused. Petitioner then filed this action. Supreme Court granted the petition as against NYCHA, concluding that the plain language of section 71 did not exclude labor class employees. The Appellate Division affirmed. The Court of Appeals reversed, holding that NYCHA did not violate section 71 when it refused to reinstate Petitioner. View "Jordan v. New York City Housing Authority" on Justia Law

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The Court of Appeals reversed the order of the Appellate Division affirming the judgment of Supreme Court directing disclosure of electronic copies of ballots stored by Essex County voting machines in the November 2015 general election, holding that N.Y. Elec. Law 3-222 protects disclosure of ballot copies during the relevant time frame. In December 2015, Petitioner requested the electronic ballot copies preserved by the Essex County Board of Elections (County Board). The County Attorney determined that section 3-222(2), which prohibits examination of "voted ballots" absent a court order or legislative committee direction during the first two years following an election, barred examination of the "voted ballots." In ordering immediate release of the ballot images Supreme Court concluded that section 3-222 did not protect the copies from disclosure and that the two-year limitation on examination of voted ballots outlined in section 3-222(2) did not encompass electronic ballot copies. The Appellate Division affirmed. The Court of Appeals reversed, holding that section 3-222(2) prevented the County Board from granting Petitioner's request for disclosure of electronic copies of those ballots. View "Kosmider v. Whitney" on Justia Law

Posted in: Election Law

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In this insurance dispute involving an insurer withholding payments to a medical service corporation improperly controlled by nonphysicans the Court of Appeals ruled that the trial court did not err in declining to give a charge requiring the jury to find fraudulent intent or conduct "tantamount to fraud" in order to reach a verdict in favor of the insurers. Plaintiff Andrew Carothers, M.D., P.C., a professional service corporation, filed multiple collection actions against insurance carriers seeking to recover unpaid claims of assigned first-party no-fault insurance benefits. The jury found that Defendants had proved that Plaintiff was "fraudulently incorporated" and that Carothers did not engage in the practice of medicine. Plaintiff appealed, arguing that the court erred in failing to give a jury instruction on "the traditional elements of common-law fraud and fraudulent intent. The Appellate Division affirmed. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that the court's instructions to the jury were proper. View "Carothers v. Progressive Insurance Co." on Justia Law