People v. Kuzdzal

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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