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The Court of Appeals reversed the order of the Appellate Division affirming the trial court’s decision to admit a statement, heard in the background of a 911 call and spoken by an unidentified person, under the excited utterance exception to the hearsay rule, holding that the admission of the statement was error, and the error was not harmless. During Defendant’s retrial, the trial court allowed admission of the statement at issue as an excited utterance. Defendant was convicted of one count of assault in the first degree and other crimes. On appeal, Defendant argued (1) the law-of-the-case doctrine prevented the substitute Supreme Court Justice from revisiting the prior justice’s decision to exclude the statement; and (2) the admission of the statement was in error because there was no evidence to infer that the statement was based on the personal observation of the declarant. The Appellate Division rejected both arguments. The Court of Appeals reversed, holding (1) the substitute justice was not bound by law of the case; but (2) it was not reasonably inferable from the circumstances that the unidentified speaker personally observed the shooting upon which Defendant’s convictions were based. View "People v. Cummings" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The “place of business” exception to N.Y. Penal Law 265.03(3) narrowly encompasses a person’s “place of business,” when such person is a merchant, storekeeper, or principal operator of a like establishment. Defendant was working as a swing manager at a McDonald’s restaurant when a gun in the pockets of his pants fired, causing an injury to the lower part of his right leg. Defendant was charged with criminal possession of a weapon in the second degree, in violation of N.Y. Penal Law 265.03. Defendant moved to dismiss the indictment, arguing that the “place of business” exception to section 265.03(3) applied because he possessed the firearm at his workplace. Supreme Court denied the motion and convicted Defendant. The Appellate Division affirmed. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that because Defendant was not the principal operator of the McDonald’s when he possessed the loaded firearm in the establishment, the “place of business” exception to section 265.03(3) was inapplicable. View "People v. Wallace" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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At issue was whether the trial court abused its discretion in this criminal case when it chose not to conduct an inquiry of two sworn jurors pursuant to People v. Buford, 69 N.Y.2d 290 (1987). The trial court elicited sworn testimony from a courtroom spectator regarding her allegation that she overhead the two jurors refer to Defendant by a derogatory term. Based on the testimony provided, the trial judge concluded that a Buford inquiry was not required. The Appellate Division opined that the trial court made no findings, express or implied, including as to the spectator’s credibility but nonetheless concluded that the court should have granted Defendant’s request to make an inquiry of the jurors. The Court of Appeals reversed, holding (1) the Appellate Division erred by opining as to what remedy was warranted in response to the content of the spectator’s allegation without determining whether the allegation was credible in the first instance; and (2) on the record, the trial court made an implied credibility finding that the spectator was not worthy of belief, and therefore, a Buford inquiry was not warranted. View "People v. Kuzdzal" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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A statute that criminalizes the making of a tangible reproduction or representation of secret scientific material by electronically copying or recording applies to the acts of a defendant who uploads proprietary source code to a computer server. Defendant compressed, uploaded, and downloaded Goldman Sachs’s high frequency trading source code. A jury found Defendant guilty of unlawful use of secret scientific material. Supreme Court set aside the jury’s verdict, concluding that the source code was not a “tangible reproduction or representation” of the source code within the meaning of N.Y. Penal Law 165.07. The Appellate Division reversed, holding that Defendant made a “tangible reproduction or representation” of the source code when he uploaded the code to the hard drive of a computer server. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding (1) there was legally sufficient evidence that Defendant created a tangible copy of the source code on the computer server in violation of section 165.07; and (2) there was legally sufficient evidence that Defendant had the necessary mens rea of “intent to appropriate…the use of secret scientific material.” View "People v. Aleynikov" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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In these consolidated appeals involving Appellants’ convictions for identity theft, the Court of Appeals held (1) the law defines the use of personal identifying information of another as one of the express means by which a defendant assumes that person’s identity; and (2) therefore, the People may establish that a defendant “assumes the identity of another” within the meaning of New York’s identity theft statute, by proof that the defendant used another’s personal identifying information, such as that person’s name, bank account, or credit card number. Accordingly, the Court rejected Appellants’ arguments that the People bear the burden of establishing independently both a defendant’s use of protected information and assumptive conduct. View "People v. Roberts" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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At issue was whether the Criminal Court properly suppressed Defendant’s breathalyzer test results on the grounds that Defendant’s consent, given in response to “inappropriate warnings,” was involuntary. Criminal Court suppressed both Defendant’s initial refusal to take the breathalyzer test and the test results, ruling (1) because the refusal occurred more than two hours after arrest, under People v. Atkins, 85 N.Y.2d 1007, 1008 (1995), the People must show that consent was express and voluntary; and (2) the People failed to demonstrate that Defendant’s consent was voluntary and not the result of coercive conduct by the officer because Defendant consented only after the officer gave the improper warnings. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that the test results were properly suppressed because the breathalyzer test was not administered in accordance with the requirements of N.Y. Veh. & Traf. Law 1194 and Defendant’s consent to take the test was not voluntary, as required by Adkins. View "People v. Odum" on Justia Law

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Under New York law, a plaintiff asserting claims of misappropriation of a trade secret, unfair competition, and unjust enrichment may not recover damages that are measured by the costs the defendant avoided due to its unlawful activity because, under the common law, compensatory damages must return the plaintiff, as nearly as possible, to the position it would have been in had the wrongdoing not occurred, but no more. This case was tried in federal court on three theories of trade secret theft, unfair competition and unjust enrichment. The jury returned a verdict for Plaintiff. The United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit asked the Court of Appeals to resolve three questions of New York’s law relating to damages, specifically, whether, as a matter of law, any plaintiff may recover a defendant’s avoided costs on one or another of these three theories of liability. The Court of Appeals held that, in any of these three actions, a plaintiff may not elect to measure its damages by the defendant’s avoided costs in lieu of its own losses. View "E.J. Brooks Co. v. Cambridge Security Seals" on Justia Law

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In this N.Y. C.P.L.R. 78 proceeding, the Court of Appeals held that the Appellate Division erred in foreclosing the possibility that title 9 of article 27 of the Environmental Conservation Law authorized the Department of Environmental Conservation’s (DEC) action unilaterally remediating the significant threat posed by hazardous wastes FMC Corporation (FMC) had released into neighboring properties. Moreover, the Court held that the interpretation of title 13 of article 27 adopted by both parties authorized DEC’s unilateral remediation effort, and therefore, any disputes over title 9 need not be resolved. View "FMC Corp. v. New York State Department of Environmental Conservation" on Justia Law

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The three-year statute of limitations set forth in N.Y. C.P.L.R. 214(2) applies to no-fault claims against a self-insurer. Girtha Butler sustained personal injuries in a motor vehicle accident involving a New York City Transit Authority (Defendant) bus in which she was a passenger. Plaintiff provided health services to Butler for her injuries, and Butler assigned to Plaintiff her right to recover first-party benefits from Defendant, who was self-insured. Plaintiff then brought this action seeking reimbursement for allegedly outstanding invoices it had submitted to Defendant. Defendant moved to dismiss the complaint based on Plaintiff’s failure to bring the action within the three-year statute of limitations under N.Y. C.P.L.R. 214(2). Civil Court denied the motion, ruling that the six-year statute of limitations set forth in N.Y. C.P.L.R. 213(2) controlled this case. The Court of Appeals reversed, holding that the three-year period of limitations in N.Y. C.P.L.R. 214(2) should control this case. View "Contact Chiropractic, P.C. v. New York City Transit Authority" on Justia Law

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In 2003, Altman subleased from Rider, the apartment's tenant since 1993. Rider had a rent-stabilized lease at $1,829.49 per month. In 2004, the landlord commenced a nonpayment proceeding against both men. Altman and the landlord entered into a settlement, agreeing that Rider would surrender all rights to the apartment and the landlord would deliver a new lease to Altman. A "Deregulation Rider," stating that the apartment was not rent-stabilized "because the legal rent was or became $2000 or more on vacancy" after the statutory vacancy increase was added to the last regulated rent. The landlord removed the apartment from registration based on "high rent vacancy." Defendant purchased the premises and, in 2007, entered into a fair market renewal lease with Altman at $2,600 per month. Altman agreed to refrain from challenging the nonregulated status of the apartment. Beginning in 2008, the owner commenced a series of nonpayment proceedings against Altman. Altman did not challenge the apartment's deregulated status. In 2014, Altman sought a declaration that the premises are subject to rent stabilization. On remand, the Supreme Court held that, although the owner was entitled to a 20% rent increase for Altman's initial lease, that increase did not deregulate the apartment. The New York Court of Appeals reversed. The 20% vacancy increase should be included when calculating the regulated rent to determine whether an apartment has reached the $2,000 deregulation threshold in the Rent Stabilization Law, section 26-511 [c]. View "Altman v 285 W. Fourth LLC" on Justia Law