Articles Posted in Criminal Law

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The Court of Appeals reversed the decision of the Appellate Division reversing Defendant's conviction of manslaughter in the first degree, holding that no reasonable view of the evidence warranted a jury instruction on justification. Defendant shot and killed the victim in the lobby of Defendant's apartment building following an argument. Defendant asked the court for a justification instruction, but the court denied the request on the grounds that the evidence did not warrant a justification charge. The Appellate Division reversed, concluding that Defendant was entitled to a jury instruction on justification. The Court of Appeals reversed, holding that Defendant was not entitled to a justification charge on this record. View "People v. Brown" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Court of Appeals reversed the judgment of the Appellate Division upholding Defendant's conviction of six counts of first-degree robbery, holding that the trial court created a specter of bias when it negotiated and entered into a cooperation agreement with a codefendant requiring the codefendant to testify against Defendant in exchange for a more favorable sentence. During Defendant's trial, the codefendant testified for the People, admitting to his own involvement in the robbery and identifying Defendant as his accomplice. Defendant moved to preclude the codefendant's testimony, arguing that the cooperation agreement between between the trial court and the codefendant indicated that the court had abdicated its responsibility to act in a neutral and detached manner. The trial court denied Defendant's motion, and Defendant was convicted. The Appellate Division upheld the judgment of conviction. The Court of Appeals reversed, holding that the trial court abandoned the role of a neutral arbiter and assumed the function of an interested party, thus denying Defendant his due process right to a fair trial in a fair tribunal. View "People v. Towns" on Justia Law

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The Court of Appeals affirmed the decision of the Appellate Division affirming Defendant's conviction of attempted assault in the first degree, holding that a portion of a testifying witness's prior grand jury testimony was properly admitted as a past recollection recorded to supplement his trial testimony. The Appellate Division held that the trial court properly exercised its discretion in admitting the grand jury testimony as a past recollection recorded because the People laid a proper foundation for the admission of the testimony and that there was no violation of the Confrontation Clause because the witness testified at trial and was subject to cross-examination. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that there was a proper foundation for receipt of the evidence and that Defendant's Sixth Amendment right to confrontation was not violated. View "People v. Tapia" on Justia Law

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The Court of Appeals affirmed the decision of the Appellate Division denying Defendant's petition for a writ of error coram nobis based on Appellant's claim that he received ineffective assistance of counsel, holding that Appellant was provided with meaningful representation under the State's ineffective assistance of counsel standard. In his petition, Appellant argued that he was deprived of the effective assistance of appellate counsel due to (1) counsel's failure to challenge his sentences as unduly harsh and severe, and (2) deficiencies in the quality of the appellate brief and appellate counsel's communication with Appellant. The Appellate Division denied Appellant's application. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding (1) Appellant was afforded meaningful representation on his direct appeal, and therefore, Appellant's counsel was not ineffective under the New York State Constitution; and (2) because the New York meaningful representation standard offers greater protection than the federal test, Appellant's federal constitutional challenge is rejected as well. View "People v. Alvarez" on Justia Law

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The Court of Appeals held that a correctional facility’s release to prosecutors or law enforcement agencies of recordings of nonprivileged telephone calls made by pretrial detainees, who are notified that their calls will be monitored and recorded, does not violate the Fourth Amendment. Defendant was charged with multiple offenses and committed the custody of the New York City Department of Correction. At trial, the prosecution sought to introduce excerpts of four phone calls Defendant made from prison recorded by DOC containing incriminating statements. Supreme Court admitted the recordings into evidence. The Appellate Division affirmed, concluding that the DOC’s failure to notify Defendant that the recordings of his calls may be turned over to prosecutors did not render the calls inadmissible. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding (1) detainees, who are informed of the monitoring and recording of their calls, have no objectively reasonable constitutional expectation of privacy in the content of those calls; and (2) therefore, a correctional facility does not violate the Fourth Amendment when it records and monitors detainees’ calls and then shares the recordings with law enforcement officials and prosecutors. View "People v. Diaz" on Justia Law

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The Court of Appeals held that a resentence on a prior conviction, imposed after the original sentence is vacated as illegal, does not reset the date of sentencing for purposes of determining a defendant’s predicate felony status. Defendant was convicted of attempted robbery in the second degree and was later convicted in another county of attempted robbery in the first degree. In both cases, Defendant was erroneously sentenced as a second felony offender. After he served his sentences, Defendant moved to set aside his sentences. The motions were granted and the courts resentenced Defendant accordingly. Defendant then moved to set aside the sentence on his 1993 conviction, arguing that his 1989 convictions were no longer predicate felonies under the statute governing second felony offender status because he was resentenced on both after the commission of the offense underlying the 1993 conviction. Supreme Court granted the motion, and the Appellate Division affirmed, concluding that Defendant must be resentenced as a first-time offender. The Court of Appeals reversed, holding that the date on which sentence was first imposed upon a prior conviction is the relevant date for purposes of determining when the the sentence upon the prior conviction was imposed for purposes of N.Y. Penal Law 70.06(1)(b)(ii). View "People v. Thomas" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Court of Appeals reversed the decision of the Appellate Division reversing the judgment of the county court on the basis that Defendant’s sentence was illegal because sentencing courts cannot require a defendant to pay for the cost of electronic monitoring, holding that, as a condition of probation, sentencing courts can require a defendant to wear and pay for a Secure Continuous Remote Alcohol Monitoring (SCRAM) bracelet that measures their alcohol intake. Defendant pleaded guilty to felony driving while intoxicated and aggravated unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle. The county courtsentenced Defendant to a term of incarceration, concurrent with five years’ probation. As a condition of his probation, Defendant was required to wear and pay for a SCRAM bracelet. When Defendant stopped paying for the SCRAM bracelet and the bracelet was removed by the monitoring company, the county court revoked Defendant’s probation. The Appellate Division reversed. The Court of Appeals reversed, holding that a court may require a defendant to pay the daily expense for an electronic monitoring device that the court has ordered a defendant to wear as a condition of probation. View "People v. Hakes" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Court of Appeals reversed the decision of the Appellate Division reversing Defendant’s conviction of manslaughter and granting Defendant a new trial, holding that the People’s failure to obtain court permission to resubmit a murder count to a new grand jury after the first grand jury deadlocked on that charge violated N.Y. Crim. Proc. Law 190.75(3), and Supreme Court erred in denying Defendant’s motion to dismiss the murder count in the second indictment on that ground, but the error did not require reversal of Defendant’s conviction. Defendant was charged with manslaughter and two counts of attempted murder. The first grand jury deadlocked on a charge of murder in the second degree. The People subsequently filed a second indictment charging Defendant with murder in the second degree. Defendant proceeded to trial on both indictments and was tried jointly with two codefendants. The jury acquitted Defendant of the murder count contained in the second indictment and convicted Defendant of the manslaughter count contained in the first indictment. The Appellate Division reversed and granted Defendant a new trial on the manslaughter count. The Court of Appeals reversed, holding that there was no reasonable possibility that the presence of the murder count during trial influenced the jury’s decision to convict Defendant on the manslaughter count in any meaningful way. View "People v. Allen" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Court of Appeals held that Defendant’s murder of his thirteen-year-old half-sister in Virginia, an offense for which registration is required under Virginia’s Sex Offender and Crimes Against Minors Registry Act, Va. Code Ann. 9.1-902, did not render Defendant a sex offender for purposes of the New York State Sex Offender Registry Act (SORA), N.Y. Correct. Law 168-a(2)(d)(ii). N.Y. Correct. Law 168 provides that a person convicted of a felony in any other jurisdiction for which the offender is required to register as a sex offender must also register under SORA. Defendant shot and killed his half-sister and was required to register with the Virginia Sex Offender and Crimes Against Minors Registry. Supreme Court determined that when Defendant moved to New York he was required to register under SORA. The Appellate Division reversed and annulled Defendant’s adjudication as a sex offender, concluding that SORA violates Defendant’s substantive due process and equal protection rights. The Court of Appeals affirmed but on other grounds, holding that if a defendant is required to register for a felony committed in a foreign jurisdiction but is not required to do so “as a sex offender,” SORA does not apply. View "People v. Diaz" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Court of Appeals concluded that the Appellate Division erred in holding that the Department of Corrections and Community Supervision (DOCCS) had an obligation to provide sex offenders residing in a residential treatment facility (RTF) with substantial assistance in identifying appropriate housing, holding that the agency met its statutory obligation to assist Petitioner in this case. The Board of Parole imposed a special condition on Petitioner’s release requiring him to propose an appropriate Sexual Assault Reform Act (SARA)-compliant residence to be investigated and approved by DOCCS. Because Petitioner was unable to identify a suitable residence by his maximum expiration date, the Board of Parole imposed the condition that Petitioner be transferred to a RTF. Petitioner commenced this N.Y. C.P.L.R. 78 proceeding asserting that DOCCS failed to provide him with assistance in locating housing. The Appellate Court concluded that DOCCS had an affirmative statutory obligation to provide “substantial assistance” to inmates who have been placed in an RTF and who are subject to the mandatory residency restrictions in SARA in locating appropriate housing and that DOCCS failed to satisfy its statutory duty to Petitioner. The Court of Appeals modified the order of the Appellate Division, holding that the Appellate Division erred in imposing a heightened duty of substantial assistance on DOCCS. View "Gonzalez v. Annucci" on Justia Law