Justia New York Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries

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The Court of Appeals reversed the order of the Appellate Division determining that the designating petition submitted by Respondent should not be invalidated because it was permeated by fraud, holding that, under the circumstances of this case, the designating petition should be declared invalid as a matter of law. The undisputed facts of this case established that 512 out of 944 signatures submitted in the designating petition were backdated to dates preceding the candidates receipt of the blank petition pages and that fourteen of the twenty-eight subscribing witnesses swore that those signatures were placed on the designating petition before the blank petition pages were obtained from the printer. The referee, Supreme Court and Appellate Division were not persuaded that Respondent either participated in the fraud or that the irregularities rose to a sufficient level to infect the remainder of the designating petition. The Court of Appeals reversed, holding that the lower courts should have concluded that this was one of those rare instances in which the designating petition is so permeated by fraud as a whole as to call for its invalidation. View "Ferreyra v. Arroyo" on Justia Law

Posted in: Election Law
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The Court of Appeals reversed the decision of the Appellate Division in Matter of Seawright v. Board of Elections in the City of New York and affirmed the decision of the Appellate Division in Matter of Hawatmeh v. New York State Board of Election, holding that, despite the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, the complete failure to file by the applicable deadline either a cover sheet with a designating petition or a certificate of acceptance constitutes a "fatal defect" under N.Y. Elec. Law 1-106(2). In Seawright, the Appellate Division, First Department, held that the candidate's belated filing of a cover sheet and certificate of acceptance did not constitute a fatal defect. In Hawatmeh, the Appellate Division, Third Department held that, notwithstanding the "unprecedented circumstances created by the COVID-19 pandemic," the candidate's belated filing of a certificate of acceptance was a fatal defect. The Court of Appeals revised in Seawright and affirmed in Hawatmeh, holding that New York courts remain constrained by the express directive of the Election Law and that the First Department's analysis in Seawright directly conflicts with that well-established statutory mandate. View "Seawright v. Board of Elections in City of New York" on Justia Law

Posted in: Election Law
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The Court of Appeals affirmed the decision of the Appellate Division affirming Supreme Court's order dismissing Plaintiffs' personal injury action against, among other defendants, the City of New York, based on Plaintiffs' failure to submit to pre-action N.Y. Gen. Mun. Law 50-h hearings, holding that a claimant does not have the right to observe a coclaimant's section 50-h oral examination over the municipality's objection. Plaintiffs served Defendants with a joint notice of claim, arguing that they suffered personal injuries and other damages due to Defendants' negligence. Defendants served separate notices of 50-h hearing, advising that Plaintiffs were required by law to be orally examined concerning their allegations before commencing an action. Plaintiffs appeared for their section 50-h hearings, but their attorney refused to let the hearings proceed unless each plaintiff could be present while the other testified. Defendants rejected Plaintiffs' requested procedure, and no section 50-h hearings occurred. Supreme Court granted Defendants' motion for summary judgment based on Plaintiffs' failure to submit to the section 50-h hearings. Supreme Court granted the motion, and the Appellate Division affirmed. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that section 50-h does not provide a claimant the right to observe a coclaimant's section 50-h oral examination over the municipality's objection. View "Colon v. Martin" on Justia Law

Posted in: Personal Injury
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The Court of Appeals affirmed the order of the Appellate Division concluding on direct appeal that Defendant was not entitled to relief on his ineffective assistance of counsel claim, holding that Defendant, on this record, did not sustain his burden to establish that counsel was constitutionally ineffective. After a jury trial, Defendant was convicted of second-degree murder. On appeal, Defendant argued that his trial counsel's failure to challenge a prospective juror constituted ineffective assistance of counsel. The Appellate Division affirmed. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding (1) the record was inadequate to review Defendant's ineffective assistance of counsel claim; and (2) the appropriate procedure for the litigation of Defendant's challenge to his counsel's performance was a N.Y. Crim. Proc. Law 440.10 motion. View "People v. Maffei" on Justia Law

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The Court of Appeals held that N.Y. Crim. Proc. Law (CPL) 710.70(2) grants a defendant the right to review of a suppression decision when the order related exclusively to a count that was satisfied by a guilty plea but was not one to which the defendant pleaded guilty. Defendant was charged with two counts of burglary in the second degree. The first count related to a laptop computer, and the second count related to jewelry. Defendant moved to suppress the jewelry, but Supreme Court denied the motion. Defendant then pleaded guilty to one count of burglary in the second degree as charged in the count pertaining to the theft of the laptop computer, in satisfaction of the count charging the burglary of jewelry. On appeal, Defendant argued that Supreme Court erred in denying his motion to suppress the jewelry. The Appellate Division affirmed, concluding that it was jurisdictionally precluded from reviewing the suppression order. The Court of Appeals reversed, holding (1) Defendant's right to appellate review of Supreme Court's suppression order was secured by CPL 710.70(2); and (2) because the Appellate Division did not reach the underlying suppression question the case must be remitted to the Appellate Division for further proceedings. View "People v. Holz" on Justia Law

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The Court of Appeals held that an arbitration panel acted within the bounds of its broad authority by reconsidering an initial determination - denominated a "partial final award" - that addressed some, but not all, of the issues submitted for arbitration. Insureds sought payment of their costs resolving through a settlement a federal qui tam action under two insurance policies issued by Insurer. After Insurer denied coverage Insureds demanded arbitration under arbitration clauses contained in the policies. The arbitration panel issued what it called a "partial final award" determining that only one insurance policy was applicable and that one insured was entitled to defense costs but not indemnification. Insureds sought reconsideration, which the arbitration panel granted. The panel then issued a "final award" granting one insured recovery for damages constituting of both the settlement and defense costs. The Appellate Division reversed, vacated the final award, and confirmed the partial final award. The Court of Appeals reversed, holding that the arbitration panel did not exceed its authority by reconsidering the partial final award. View "American International Specialty Lines Insurance Co. v. Allied Capital Corp." on Justia Law

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In these four appeals presenting a common issue under the Rent Stabilization Law (RSL) the Court of Appeals held that the new overcharge calculation provisions set forth in part F, section 7 of the Housing Stability and Tenant Protection Act of 2019 (HSTPA) does not apply to these appeals and that these appeals must be resolved under the law in effect at the time the overcharges occurred. Each of these cases involved an apartment that was treated as deregulated consistent with then-prevailing Division of Housing and Community Renewal (DHCR) regulations before the Court of Appeals rejected that guidance in Roberts v. Tishman Speyer Properties, L.P., 13 NY3d 270 (2009). After the Court of Appeals decided Roberts, the tenants commenced overcharge claims under the RSL. At issue in these cases - sent to the Court of Appeals by leave of the Appellate Division before enactment of the HSTPA - was how to calculate the legal regulated rent in order to determine whether a recoverable overcharge occurred. The Court of Appeals held (1) the overcharge calculation and treble damages provision in part F of the HSTPA may not be applied retroactively; and (2) therefore, these claims must be resolved pursuant to the law in effect when the purported overcharges occurred. View "Regina Metropolitan Co. v. New York State Division of Housing & Community Renewal" on Justia Law

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The Court of Appeals affirmed Defendant's conviction and affirmed the denial of Defendant's pro se motion pursuant to N.Y. Crim. Proc. Law (CPL) 440.10 to vacate his conviction of attempted burglary in the second degree, holding that Defendant did not preserve his due process claim that the trial court failed to inform him of potential immigration consequences as a result of his conviction and that Supreme Court did not abuse its discretion in summarily rejecting Defendant's CPL 440.10 motion. Defendant was served, in open court and months before the plea proceedings leading up to his plea of guilty to attempted burglary in the second degree, with a "Notice of Immigration Consequences" form. In affirming both Defendant's conviction on his direct appeal and Supreme Court's denial of Defendant's CPL 440.10 motion the Appellate Division concluded that provision of the notice to Defendant meant that his direct appeal did not fit within "the narrow exception to the preservation requirement." The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding (1) Defendant's claim on appeal was unpreserved as a matter of law, and no exception to the preservation rule applied; and (2) Supreme Court acted within its discretion in denying Defendant's CPL 440.10 motion without a hearing. View "People v. Delorbe" on Justia Law

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The Court of Appeals affirmed Defendant's conviction of murder, holding that the trial court abused its discretion as a matter of law in admitting certain DNA evidence without holding a hearing pursuant to Frye v. United States, 293 F 1013 (DC Cir. 1923), but the error was harmless. At issue in this case was whether the trial court erred in admitting low copy number (LCN) DNA evidence and the results of a statistical analysis conducted using the proprietary forensic statistical tool (FST) developed and controlled by the New York City Office of Chief Medical Examiner without holding a Frye hearing. The Appellate Division refused to disturb the trial court's determination denying Defendant's motion for an order directing that a Frye hearing be held with respect to the reliability of any proposed evidence generated through LCN and FST review. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding (1) the trial court abused its discretion as a matter of law in denying a Frye hearing, but the error was harmless; and (2) none of Defendant's remaining arguments on appeal had merit. View "People v. Williams" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law
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The Court of Appeals affirmed the order of the Appellate Division granting summary judgment and dismissing Plaintiffs' claim under N.Y. Jud. Law 487(1) against their former attorneys who allegedly induced them to bring a meritless lawsuit in order to generate a legal fee, holding that the suit was properly dismissed. In moving for summary judgment, Defendants argued that Plaintiffs' section 487 claim must be dismissed because Plaintiffs failed to allege any misrepresentations made in the context of ongoing litigation. Supreme Court denied the motion with respect to the section 487 claim, concluding that Plaintiffs raised triable issues of fact. The Appellate Division reversed and granted summary judgment on that claim. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that Defendants established prima facie entitlement to judgment as a matter of law on the section 487 claim and that Plaintiffs failed to raise a triable issue of fact in response. View "Bill Birds, Inc. v. Stein Law Firm, P.C." on Justia Law