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The Court of Appeals rejected Plaintiffs’ argument that an individual has a fundamental constitutional right to aid-in-dying as defined by Plaintiffs and also rejected Plaintiffs’ assertion that the State’s prohibition on assisted suicide is not rationally related to legitimate state interests. Plaintiffs filed this action requesting declaratory and injunctive relief to permit “aid-in-dying,” which would allow a mentally competent, terminally ill patient to obtain a prescription from a physician to cause death. The Attorney General filed a motion to dismiss on the grounds that Plaintiffs failed to state a cause of action and did not present a justiciable controversy. Supreme Court granted the motion. The Appellate Division affirmed as modified, declaring that the assisted suicide statutes provide a valid statutory basis to prosecute physicians who provide aid-in-dying and that the statutes do not violate the New York Constitution. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding (1) the State Constitution’s Due Process Clause does not encompass a fundamental right to physician-assisted suicide; and (2) the State’s prohibition is rationally related to a number of legitimate state interests, and heightened scrutiny is unwarranted. View "Myers v. Schneiderman" on Justia Law

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The Court of Appeals upheld the constitutionality of New York’s discretionary persistent felony offender sentencing scheme, holding that, in light of Alleyne v. United States, 570 U.S. __ (2013), this sentencing scheme does not violate Apprendi v. New Jersey, 530 U.S. 466 (2000), nor does it violate Defendant’s due process and Sixth Amendment rights. Defendant argued New York’s persistent felony offender statute, N.Y. Penal Law 70.10(1)(a), increased the sentencing floor for persistent felony offenders. The Court of Appeals held that even if Defendant was correct in his characterization, the increase to the sentencing floor would not be the result of impermissible judicial fact-finding. The court further held that the statute falls squarely within the exception afforded by Almendarez-Torres v. United States, 523 U.S. 224 (1998), because it exposes defendants to an enhanced sentencing range based only on the existence of two prior felony convictions. View "People v. Prindle" on Justia Law

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The Court of Appeals reversed the order of the Appellate Division affirming Surrogate’s Court’s grant of summary judgment to Petitioners, holding that Petitioners’ claim against the decedent’s estate seeking to enforce an oral promise was barred by the statute of frauds. Surrogate’s Court concluded that promissory estoppel should be applied to Petitioners’ claim to remedy a potential injustice. The Appellate Division affirmed, concluding that the elements of promissory estoppel were met and that application of the statute of frauds would be unconscionable under the circumstances. The Court of Appeals reversed, holding that Petitioners could not invoke the doctrine of promissory estoppel because application of the statute of frauds would not inflict an unconscionable injury upon Petitioners. View "In re Hennel" on Justia Law

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An entity engaged in the bail bond business may not retain the premium paid on a criminal defendant’s behalf when bail is denied and the defendant is never released from custody. Arthur Bogoraz was indicted on state law fraud charges. Plaintiffs, Bogoraz’s wife and family friends, entered into an indemnity agreement with Ira Judelson, a licensed bail bond agent affiliated with the International Fidelity Insurance Agency, to secure Bogoraz’s release from custody in exchange for a premium of $120,560. The district court denied the bail bond after a hearing, however, and Bogoraz was never released from custody. Judelson refused to return the $120,560 to Plaintiffs. The district court found that the indemnity agreement permitted Judelson to retain the premium. On appeal, the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit certified a question of law regarding the issue to the Court of Appeals. The Court of Appeals held that, under the Insurance Law, an entity engaged in the bail bond business does not earn a premium for a bail bond if a court refuses to accept the bond following a bail source hearing and the principal is not released on bail. View "Gevorkyan v. Judelson" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs filed two actions - the NYSER action and the Aristy-Farer action - contending that the State had violated the Education Article by failing to provide students with a sound basic education. Supreme Court denied Defendants’ motions to dismiss Plaintiffs’ respective complaints. In the NYSER action, the Appellate Division affirmed as modified to dismiss Plaintiffs’ third cause of action. In the Aristy-Farer action, the Appellate Division modified to dismiss the second and third causes of a action. The Court of Appeals held (1) the NYSER plaintiffs’ first and second causes of action did not survive a motion to dismiss; (2) the third cause of action in the NYSER action survives as to New York City and Syracuse school districts; (3) the fourth cause of action in the NYSER action is sufficiently pleaded as to New York City and Syracuse; and (4) all causes of action in the Aristy-Farer are dismissed. View "Aristy-Farer v. State" on Justia Law

Posted in: Education Law

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In this criminal case, the People did not proffer a sufficient foundation at trial to authenticate a photograph that was obtained from an internet profile page allegedly belonging to Defendant to render the photograph admissible in evidence. After a jury trial, Defendant was convicted of two counts of robbery. Over Defendant’s objection to the sufficiency of the proffered authentication, the trial court ruled that a photograph purportedly depicting Defendant holding a firearm and money would be admissible into evidence. The Appellate Division affirmed. The Court of Appeals reversed the order of the Appellate Division and ordered a new trial, holding (1) the People failed to demonstrate that the photograph was a fair and accurate representation of that which it purported to depict and presented insufficient evidence to establish that the website belonged to, and was controlled by, Defendant; and (2) the error was not harmless. View "People v. Price" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The sentencing court violated N.Y. Crim. Proc. Laws 390.50 and Defendant’s due process rights by failing adequately to set forth on the record the basis for its refusal to disclose to the defense certain statements that were considered by the court for sentencing purposes. Defendant pleaded guilty to charges of attempted murder in the second degree, assault in the first degree, and assault in the second degree. At sentencing, county court denied counsel’s request to turn over to counsel the victim impact letters that accompanied the presentence investigation report (PSI). The Appellate Division concluded that the sentencing court had not erred by denying disclosure of “confidential information.” The Court of Appeals reversed, holding that the sentencing court failed to comply with its statutory obligation under section 390.50, thus implicating Defendant’s due process rights. View "People v. Minemier" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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Under the circumstances of this case, where a sworn juror repeatedly and unambiguously stated that she was unable to render an impartial verdict based solely on the evidence and the law, the trial court erred in failing to discharge the juror as “grossly unqualified to serve” pursuant to N.Y. Crim. Proc. Law 270.35(1). After a jury trial, Defendant was acquitted of murder in the second degree and convicted of manslaughter in the first degree. The Appellate Division affirmed. The Court of Appeals reversed and ordered that Defendant receive a new trial, holding that the sworn juror at issue in this case, a juror who purportedly stated that she could not “do what the law require[d] [her] to do,” was incapable of rendering an impartial verdict as required by her oath as a sworn juror. Therefore, section 270.35(1) mandated her discharge. View "People v. Spencer" on Justia Law

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After a jury trial, Defendant was found guilty of first-degree course of sexual conduct against a child. The Appellate Division affirmed. Defendant appealed, arguing that he was denied the effective assistance of counsel due to counsel’s failure to object to the admission of evidence that the victim disclosed the abuse three years after it ceased and then again four years after her initial disclosure. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that Defendant failed to demonstrate the absence of strategic or legitimate explanations for counsel’s failure to object to the evidence at issue. View "People v. Honghirun" on Justia Law

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There was personal jurisdiction over Defendant - a winery located in Pontevedra, Spain - under New York’s long-arm jurisdiction statute and, consequently, subject matter jurisdiction over the parties’ dispute under N.Y. Bus. Corp. Law 1314(b)(4). Supreme Court denied Defendant’s motion for summary judgment based on lack of personal and subject matter jurisdiction. The Appellate Division reversed, concluding that Defendant was not subject to personal jurisdiction under N.Y. C.P.L.R. 302(a)(1) of New York’s long-arm jurisdiction statute. The Court of Appeals reversed, holding that the exercise of long-arm jurisdiction over Defendant comported with federal due process because Defendant availed itself of the privilege of conducting business in New York by promoting its wine in the state, soliciting a distributor in the state, and selling wine to that New York-based distributor. View "D&R Global Selections, S.L. v Bodega Olegario Falcon Pineiro" on Justia Law