Justia New York Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries

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The Court of Appeals affirmed the opinion of the Appellate Division affirming Defendant's conviction of first-degree criminal possession of a forged instrument and seventh-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance, holding that there was legally sufficient evidence of Defendant's "intent to defraud, deceive or injury another" within the meaning of N.Y. Penal Law 170.30. On appeal, the Appellate Division held that the jury could reasonably have inferred from the evidence that Defendant knowingly possessed counterfeit money with fraudulent intent. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding (1) a rational jury could have found beyond a reasonable doubt that Defendant intended to pass the counterfeit bills in his possession and thereby defraud others; (2) Defendant's objections to the admission of certain testimony were unpreserved; and (3) the arresting officer had reasonable suspicion to justify the original stop of Defendant. View "People v. Britt" on Justia Law

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The Court of Appeals affirmed the judgment of the trial court denying Defendant's motion to suppress evidence following the court's granting permission to the People to reopen the hearing and present additional testimony after the People had rested but before the court rendered a decision, holding that Supreme Court had, and did not abuse, the discretion to reopen the suppression hearing. Defendant was charged with attempted robbery and assault. Defendant moved to suppress the identification made by the victim on the night of the assault, arguing that the identification procedures had been unduly suggestive and that his initial detention had been without reasonable suspicion. A hearing was held. After the People rested but before the court rendered a decision the People were granted permission to reopen the hearing and present additional testimony. Supreme Court subsequently denied Defendant's suppression motion, and Defendant was convicted. The Appellate Division affirmed. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that the hearing court's reopening was a permissible exercise of its discretion. View "People v. Cook" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law
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The Court of Appeals affirmed the order of the Appellate Division, holding that, under N.Y. C.P.L.R. 3122(a)(2), the Comptroller of the State of New York's subpoenas to a medical provider seeking patients' records in carrying out the Comptroller's obligation to audit payments to private companies that provide health care to beneficiaries of a state insurance program need not be accompanied by written patient authorizations. Petitioner, a professional corporation engaged in the practice of plastic surgery, was served with a subpoena duces tecum requesting the names and addresses of certain patients. Petitioner commenced this special proceeding to quash the subpoena, arguing that under C.P.L.R. 3122(a)(2) it was not obligated to respond to the subpoena. Supreme Court granted the petition and quashed the subpoena. The Appellate Division reversed. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that the requirements set out in C.P.L.R. 3122(a)(2) apply only to subpoenas duces tecum served after the commencement of an action, and therefore, the statute does not require that the Comptroller's subpoenas be accompanied by written patient authorizations. View "Plastic Surgery Group, P.C. v. Comptroller of the State of New York" on Justia Law

Posted in: Health Law
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The Court of Appeals affirmed the Appellate Division's decision confirming the determination of the Environmental Control Board (ECB) concluding that petitioner corporations were outdoor advertising companies (OACs), holding that by advertising a distinct legal entity on their buildings, petitioner corporations made space available to "others" under Administrative Code 28.502.1. Petitioner corporations were owned either by John Ciafone or by both Ciafone and his spouse. Each of the buildings owned by the corporations had signage affixed to it advertising Ciafone's law practice. The New York City Department of Buildings cited the corporations for violations of the Administrative Code of the City of New York, as well as the New York City Zoning Resolution. The determination was affirmed on administrative appeal. The court of Appeals affirmed, holding that Ciafone, his professional corporation, and the petitioner corporations were separate legal entities, and therefore, the petitioner corporations were OACs under the plain language of Administrative Code 28-502.1. View "Franklin Street Realty Corp. v. NYC Environmental Control Board" on Justia Law

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The Court of Appeals affirmed the judgments of the trial court in both of these cases, holding that both courts erred by reversing, after summations, their prior rulings on Defendants' requests to charge the jury, but these errors did not mandate reversal. The appellate courts affirmed Defendants' convictions on both cases at issue on appeal, ruling that both lower courts erred by failing to charge the jury in accordance with the courts' pre-summation rulings on Defendants' charging requests but that the error was harmless. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding (1) a trial court's error in reversing a prior charging decision after summations have been completed is subject to harmless error analysis; and (2) where the evidence of guilt in both cases was overwhelming, the error in each case was harmless. View "People v. Mairena" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law
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In these three consolidated appeals the Court of Appeals addressed the issue of imprecise language in Defendants' written waivers of the right to appeal that mischaracterized the scope of the appellate rights waived as a condition of the plea bargains, adhering to well-established precedent in affirming in one case and reversing in other two cases. At issue was whether, under the circumstance of each of the three cases, the mischaracterizations impacted the knowing and voluntary nature of the three appeal waivers before the Court. The Court of Appeals (1) affirmed in one case, holding that the appeal waiver was knowingly and voluntarily entered; and (2) reversed in the other two cases, holding that the appeal waivers were involuntarily made and thus not enforceable. View "People v. Thomas" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law
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The Court of Appeals affirmed the order of the Appellate Division rejecting Defendant's challenges to his conviction of two counts of manslaughter in the second degree, holding that Defendant's conduct may be prosecuted as a homicide offense and that the conviction was supported by legally sufficient evidence. Two of Defendant's patients died of overdoses caused by a combination of oxycodone and alprazolam shortly after filling prescriptions for the drugs issued by Defendant. Defendant was convicted of two counts of manslaughter in the second degree and related offenses. On appeal, Defendant argued, among other things, that he could not be convicted of any homicide offense for providing controlled substances that result in an overdose death. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding (1) there is no basis to conclude that the legislature intended to exclude from the ambit of homicide statutes the prosecution of a defendant who engages, with the requisite mens rea, in conduct through the provision of dangerous drugs that directly causes a person's death; and (2) sufficient evidence supported the conviction. View "People v. Li" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law
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The Court of Appeals reversed the order of the Appellate Division affirming Defendant's conviction, holding that the trial court abused its discretion as a matter of law and committed reversible error when it refused to allow Defendant to cross-examine two police officers in two specific areas involving officer dishonesty, holding that a law enforcement witness may be subject to cross-examination with respect to a its of dishonesty not proven at trial. In an shooting incident during which no one was injured two police officers identified the shooter as Defendant. At trial, the People's case rested almost entirely on the police officers' identification of Defendant as the shooter. Defendant was convicted of attempted murder in the second degree and related firearm counts. The Appellate Division affirmed. The Court of Appeals reversed, holding (1) a defendant should be permitted to explore specific allegations of wrongdoing relevant to the credibility of a law enforcement witness, and law enforcement witnesses should be treated in the same manner as any other witness for purposes of cross-examination; and (2) Defendant was denied a fair trial inasmuch as the trial court refused to allow him to explore misstatements one of the officers made to a federal prosecutor. View "People v. Rouse" on Justia Law

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The Court of Appeals affirmed the order of the Appellate Division affirming the judgment of the Court of Claims granting the State's motion for summary judgment in this assault and battery case involving an inmate who was injured by a correction officer, holding that no reasonable fact-finder could conclude that the assault constituted action taken within the correction officer's scope of employment. Before the Court of Appeals the claimant argued that summary judgment was not properly granted because the assault was within the scope of the correction officer's employment, and therefore, the State was liable under the doctrine of respondent superior. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding (1) there was no basis to conclude that the assault constituted conduct within the scope of employment; and (2) the claimant's remaining contentions were without merit. View "Rivera v. State" on Justia Law

Posted in: Personal Injury
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The Court of Appeals affirmed the Appellate Division's order affirming Supreme Court's dismissal of Plaintiff's action brought under N.Y. Real Prop. Acts. Law 1504(1) to discharge a mortgage on grounds that the statute of limitations on Defendant's foreclosure claim had expired, holding that Defendant's claims were not time barred. Under N.Y. C.P.L.R. 204(a), New York law tolls the statute of limitations where the "commencement of an action has been stayed by a court or by statutory prohibition." At issue was whether the bankruptcy stay of any judicial proceedings against a debtor upon the filing of a bankruptcy petition qualifies as a "statutory prohibition" under section 204(a). Defendant filed two foreclosure actions against Plaintiff, Plaintiff filed two bankruptcy petitions, and automatic bankruptcy stays were imposed. Plaintiff brought this action asserting that the statute of limitations on Defendant's foreclosure claim had expired. Defendant moved to dismiss, arguing that the statute of limitations had not expired because it was tolled while the bankruptcy stay was in effect. Supreme Court dismissed, and the Appellate Division affirmed. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding (1) the bankruptcy stay is a "statutory prohibition" within the ambit of the New York tolling statute; and (2) Defendant's claims were not time barred when Supreme Court granted Defendant's motion to dismiss. View "Lubonty v. U.S. Bank National Ass'n" on Justia Law