by
The Court of Appeals reversed the judgment of the Appellate Division remanding this criminal case for a new trial, holding that the trial court’s determination that Defendant’s request to proceed pro se, made near the conclusion of jury selection, was untimely was not in error. The day after the parties began jury selection, Defendant voluntarily appeared and, for the first time, asked to represent himself. The trial court rejected Defendant’s request to proceed pro se, concluding that it was too late to make the request. Defendant was ultimately convicted of assault in the first degree and criminal possession of a weapon in the third degree. The Appellate Division reversed, concluding that Defendant’s requests to represent himself were timely because they occurred before opening statements. The Court of Appeals reversed, holding (1) a request to represent oneself in a criminal trial is timely where the application to proceed pro se is made before the trial commences; and (2) therefore, the trial court properly determined that Defendant’s request to represent himself was untimely. View "People v. Crespo" on Justia Law

by
The Court of Appeals upheld the determination of the New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct sustaining four charges of misconduct against Petitioner, a Judge of the Civil Court of the City of New York, Queens County, and the conclusion that Petitioner should be removed from office, holding that the charges were sustained by the evidence and that the sanction of removal was appropriate. The Commission determined that Petitioner violated the Rules Governing Judicial Conduct, including rules 100.1, 100.2(A), 100.2(B), 100.3(B)(1), and 100.3(B)(3). The Court of Appeals held that the Commission’s determined sanction of removal was warranted, considering Petitioner’s conduct as a whole and all of the relevant circumstances, and ordered that Petitioner be removed from office. View "In re O'Connor" on Justia Law

Posted in: Legal Ethics

by
The Court of Appeals accepted the State Commission on Judicial Conduct’s recommendation that Petitioner Leticia D. Astacio be removed from her judicial office as a Judge of the Rochester City Court, Monroe County, holding that Petitioner’s actions violated sections 100.1, 100.2(A), 100.2(C), 100.3(B)(3), 100.3(E)(1)(a)(i), and 100.4(A)(2) of the Rules Governing Judicial Conduct. Before the Court, Petitioner did not challenge the Commission’s findings of fact and determination to sustain all charges of misconduct, but, rather, asked the Court to reduce the sanction from removal to censure. After considering the full spectrum of Petitioner’s behavior and its impact on public perception of the judiciary, the Court of Appeals held that the Commission’s determination should be accepted and that Judge Astacio be removed from office. View "In re Leticia D. Astacio" on Justia Law

Posted in: Legal Ethics

by
The Court of Appeals held that Plaintiff’s breach of contract action, which concerned the interplay between the freedom to contract and New York public policy, was correctly dismissed as untimely because no substantive condition precedent was created and, to the extent the parties intended to postpone the commencement of the limitations period, their attempt to do so was inconsistent with New York law and public policy. In ACE Sec. Corp., Home Equity Loan Trust Series 2006, SL2 v. DB Structured Prods., Inc., 26 NY3d 581 (2015), the Court of Appeals held that a cause of action for breach of representations and warranties contained within a residential mortgage-backed securities contract accrued when the contract was executed. On appeal, Plaintiff argued that contractual language different from the language at issue in ACE and that an accrual clause either created a substantive condition precedent to suit or expressed the clear intent of the parties to delay commencement of the statutory limitations period until certain specified events had occurred. The Appellate Division affirmed. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding (1) nothing in the accrual clause created a substantive condition precedent; and (2) the parties may not postpone accrual in the manner attempted in this case consistent with New York law and public policy. View "Deutsche Bank National Trust Co. v. Flagstar Capital Markets" on Justia Law

Posted in: Contracts

by
The Justice Center for the Protection of People with Special Needs acted within its authority under N.Y. Social Services Law 493 when it required Petitioner to undertake certain remedial measures to correct the systemic problems that led to three sexual assaults at Petitioner’s residential health care facility. The sexual assaults at Petitioner’s facility were committed by the same resident and occurred within a six-month period. After an investigation, the Justice Center substantiated allegations of neglect against Petitioner and required it to undertake certain remedial measures to correct its “systemic problems.” Petitioner brought this N.Y. C.P.L.R. 78 proceeding seeking to annul the Justice Center’s determination, contending that section 493 did not authorize the Justice Center to substantiate a finding of neglect against Petitioner and that the Justice Center’s determination was not supported by substantial evidence. The Appellate Division granted the petition and annulled the Justice Center’s determination. The Court of Appeals reversed, holding that section 493 enables the Justice Center to address systemic issues at a facility regardless of whether allegations against a particular employee are also substantiated. View "Anonymous v. Molik" on Justia Law

Posted in: Health Law

by
The New York City Board of Health’s promulgation of the flu vaccine falls within the powers specifically delegated to the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene in New York City Administrative Code 17-109. At issue was the Board’s amendments to the New York City Health Code mandating that children between the ages of six months and fifty-nine months who attend city-regulated child care or school-based programs receive annual influenza vaccinations. Petitioners - parents of children enrolled in child care programs subject to the flu vaccine rules who objected to their children receiving the vaccination - commenced this hybrid N.Y. C.P.L.R. 78 proceeding and declaratory judgment action to enjoin Respondents from enforcing the flu vaccine rules. Supreme Court granted Petitioners’ motion and permanently enjoined Respondents from enforcing the flu vaccine rules. The Appellate Division affirmed. The Court of Appeals reversed, holding (1) the Board permissibly adopted the flu vaccine rules pursuant to its authority to regulate vaccinations; (2) the Board’s actions did not violate the separation of powers doctrine; and (3) the flu vaccine rules are not preempted by state law. View "Garcia v. New York City Department of Health & Mental Hygiene" on Justia Law

by
Because the record in this criminal case failed to establish that the trial court provided counsel with meaningful notice of the precise contents of two substantive jury notes in discharge of a core obligation under N.Y. Crim. Proc. Law 310.30, a mode of proceedings error occurred and a new trial must be ordered. On appeal from their convictions for robbery in the second degree, Defendants Lawrence Parker and Mark Nonni argued, among other things, that the trial court failed to provide counsel with notice of jury requests for information during deliberations. The Court of Appeals reversed the convictions, holding that because there was no record indicating that counsel was informed of the precise contents of two of the jury’s three substantive notes, the court failed to fulfill its obligation under People v. O’Rama, 78 N.Y. 2d 270 (1991), and its progeny. View "People v. Parker" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

by
Because Defendant and the court supervising Defendant’s waiver of the right to indictment by a grand jury followed the procedure set forth under N.Y. Const. art. I, 6 by signing a written instrument in open court in the presence of his counsel, the Court of Appeals affirmed Defendant’s conviction. On appeal from the judgment of conviction and sentence, Defendant argued that his waiver of indictment was invalid because there was no evidence in the record that it was executed in open court and because there was no colloquy with the court on the subject. The Appellate Division upheld the validity of the waiver. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding (1) the Constitution precludes a holding that a waiver of the right to indictment by grand jury is ineffective unless a judge conducts an oral inquiry on the record; and (2) contrary to Defendant’s arguments, the record evidenced that the waiver was signed in open court, and there was nothing in the record to suggest that Defendant did not understand what he was waiving. View "People v. Myers" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

by
At issue was whether the Town of Champion, which replaced a fire protection district with two substitute fire protection districts, complied with its statutory obligation to dissolve and terminate the fire protection district. Petitioners filed this N.Y. C.P.L.R. 78 proceeding claiming that the Town of Champion failed to accomplish and complete the dissolution of the Town of Champion Fire Protection District, as required by the General Municipal Law. Supreme Court dismissed the petition, concluding that the Town followed the required procedures and acted within its authority. The Appellate Division affirmed. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that the Town’s actions were not improper because the Town prepared, approved, and implemented a dissolution plan in compliance with the applicable statutory requirements and lawfully created two legally distinct fire protection districts to deliver fire protection services to Town residents, in accordance with Town Law section 170. View "Waite v. Town of Champion" on Justia Law

by
The Court of Appeals affirmed the judgment of the Appellate Division concluding that the claims asserted by plaintiff Ambac Assurance Corporation in its appeal from Supreme Court’s judgment in a suit against defendant Countrywide Home Loans, Inc. lacked merit. Ambac, a monoline financial guaranty insurer, agreed to insure payments of principal and interest owed to the holders of residential mortgage-backed securities sponsored by Countrywide. Many of the loans backing those securities went into default following a market downturn, causing substantial losses. Ambac filed suit against Countrywide, alleging that Countrywide breached several contractual representations and warranties and fraudulently induced Ambac to enter into the insurance agreements. The Court of Appeals held that the Appellate Division correctly determined that (1) justifiable reliance and loss causation are required elements of a fraudulent inducement claim; (2) Ambac may only recover damages on its fraudulent inducement claim that flow from nonconforming loans; (3) the remedy for Ambac’s contract claims was limited to the repurchase protocol provided for in the contract’s sole remedy provision; and (4) Ambac was not entitled to attorneys’ fees. View "Ambac Assurance Corp. v. Countrywide Home Loans, Inc." on Justia Law