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N.Y. Crim. Proc. Law (CPL) 380.40 entitles a defendant to be present personally at the time sentence is pronounced for the re-imposition of the defendant’s original prison sentence under N.Y. Penal Law 70.85 unless he or she validly forfeits or waives the right to be present. In 2001, Defendant pleaded guilty to manslaughter in the first degree and attempted murder in the second degree and was sentenced to twenty-five years in prison. In 2009, Defendant filed a motion to vacate his plea and sentence under People v. Catu, 825 N.E.2d 1081 (N.Y. 2005) because he had not been informed of the term of post-release supervision (PRS) to follow his prison sentence. At a court appearance at which the prosecutor and Defendant’s attorney were present but Defendant himself was absent, Supreme Court denied Defendant’s motion to vacate his plea and re-imposed his original sentence, without a term of PRS, under section 70.85. The Appellate Division affirmed. The Court of Appeals reversed, holding that because there was no voluntary wavier, Defendant’s absence from the sentencing proceeding was in itself, under precedent, an error because it constituted a violation of his right under CPL 380.40. View "People v. Estremera" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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An appellant’s failure to file an affidavit of errors with the criminal court if the underlying proceedings were not recorded by a court reporter in order to appeal a judgment of a local criminal court renders the intermediate appellate court without jurisdiction to hear the case. The jury trial of Defendant, who was charged with criminal contempt in the second degree, was held in a local town court, which is not a court of record, and no court stenographer was present during the proceedings. Defendant was convicted and sentenced. Defendant filed a notice of appeal but did not file an affidavit of errors with the court. County Court upheld Defendant’s conviction but reduced her year-long jail sentence to six months. The Court of Appeals reversed, holding (1) Defendant’s appeal was improperly entertained by the intermediate appellate court; but (2) under the circumstances of this case, this case is remitted to the County court to permit that court’s exercise of discretion in connection with Defendant’s motion to file a late affidavit of errors. View "People v. Flores" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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Assuming that the legislature’s 2013 amendment to N.Y. Workers’ Comp. Law 25-a has a retroactive impact by imposing unfunded costs upon Plaintiffs for policies finalized before the amendment’s effective date, that retroactive impact is constitutionally permissible. Plaintiffs - approximately twenty insurance companies that wrote workers’ compensation insurance policies in New York - commenced this declaratory judgment action in 2013, alleging that the legislature’s amendment to section 25-a operated retroactively to the extent that it imposed unfunded liability upon Plaintiffs and that this retroactive impact was unconstitutional. Supreme Court granted Defendant’s motion to dismiss, concluding that the amendment operated prospectively. The Appellate Division reversed and entered a judgment declaring section 25-a(1-a) unconstitutional as retroactively applied to policies issued before October 1, 2013. The Court of Appeals reversed, holding that, even assuming that the amendment has retroactive impact, this impact is constitutional. View "American Economy Insurance Co. v. State" on Justia Law

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A due process violation occurs when the sole judge deciding a criminal defendant’s appeal as of right is the same judge who also presided over the defendant’s pretrial motions and bench trial. In this case, due process required the judge’s recusal. Defendant was charged with driving while ability impaired. Defendant moved to dismiss the charges against him. The judge presiding in city court denied Defendant’s motion. The same judge subsequently found Defendant guilty as charged at a bench trial. During the pendency of Defendant’s appeal, the same judge who had presided over Defendant’s bench trial was elected to county court. That same judge then upheld Defendant’s judgment of conviction and sentence on appeal. The Court of Appeals reversed the order of the county court, holding that this matter must be remitted to county court for Defendant’s appeal to be heard by a different judge. View "People v. Novak" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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N.Y. Veh. & Traf. Law (VTL) 397, which provides that a person - not a police officer but someone acting pursuant to his special duties - who equips or operates a motor vehicle with a radio capable of receiving signals on the frequencies allocated for police use does not require that the prohibited device be physically attached to the motor vehicle. The prosecution filed an accusatory instrument alleging that Defendant operated a pick-up truck bearing the name of a tow truck company while having inside his jacket pocket a police scanner. Criminal Court dismissed the accusatory instrument on the ground that there were no allegations that the scanner was specifically prepared to be used with a vehicle. The Appellate Term reversed. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that the information was facially sufficient to establish reasonable cause to believe Defendant violated VTL 397. View "People v. Andujar" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Court of Appeals in this care reaffirmed its longstanding rule that a warrantless arrest of a suspect in the threshold of a residence is permissible under the Fourth Amendment, provided that the suspect has voluntarily answered the door and the police have not crossed the threshold. Defendant was arrested without a warrant inside the doorway of his home. Defendant was later convicted of four counts of third-degree robbery and one count of attempted third-degree robbery. Defendant appealed the denial of his motion to suppress, arguing that the police violated Payton v. New York, 455 U.S. 573 (1980), by entering his home without consent or a warrant. The Appellate Division affirmed. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding (1) the police never entered Defendant’s home, and therefore, the intrusion prohibited by Payton did not occur; (2) despite the urging of Defendant and two dissenting colleagues, this court refuses to adopt a new rule that warrantless “threshold/doorway arrests” violate Payton when the only reason the arrestee is in the doorway is that he or she was summoned there by police; and (3) there is no compelling justification to overrule prior precedent to recognize a new category of Payton violations based on subjective police intent. View "People v. Garvin" on Justia Law

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Excess Line Association of New York (ELANY), a legislatively created advisory association under the supervision of the Department of Financial Services (DFS), does not have capacity to sue its members to recover fees that it is statutorily authorized to receive and does not have capacity to sue to compel an accounting to determine amounts allegedly owed. ELANY commenced this action against Defendants - a third-generation, family-owned and operated insurance brokerage firm and consortium - seeking, inter alia, to recover stamping fees for excess line policies allegedly procured from 1989 through 2011 and to enforce its purported right to conduct an examination and accounting pursuant to the Insurance Law. Supreme Court dismissed the action, determining that ELANY lacked capacity to sue. The Appellate Division affirmed. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that the courts below correctly concluded that ELANY does not have capacity to sue for the relief sought. View "Excess Line Ass’n of New York v. Waldorf & Associates" on Justia Law

Posted in: Insurance Law

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The trial court’s introduction of DNA evidence through the testimony of a witness who had not performed, witness or supervised the generation of DNA profiles to prove an essential fact for a finding of guilt violated Defendant’s right to confront the witnesses against him. Defendant was charged with three burglaries and several related offenses in connection with two separate incidents in June 2009 and September 2009. During trial, a criminalist was permitted to testify, over Defendant’s hearsay objections, and without having conducted, witnessed or supervised the generation of the DNA profiles, that the DNA profile generated from Defendant’s buccal swab was a match to the DNA profile generated from evidence found at the crime scenes. The jury found Defendant guilty of two counts of burglary in the third degree and criminal mischief in the fourth degree relating to the June 2009 burglaries and acquitted Defendant of the counts relating to the September 2009 burglary. The Court of Appeals reversed, holding that the introduction of the hearsay DNA evidence through surrogate testimony to prove that Defendant was the perpetrator of the burglaries at issue violated Defendant’s right to confront the witnesses against him. View "People v. Austin" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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Under the circumstances of this case, the mere commencement of an action seeking “rescission and/or reformation” of a contract does not constitute an anticipatory breach of such agreement. Plaintiff agreed to purchase certain property from Defendants. The contract was subsequently amended. Plaintiff later commenced this action seeking specific performance absent the amendments on the ground that the amendments were executed based on Defendants’ alleged misrepresentations. Defendants asserted various counterclaims. Plaintiffs’ causes of action were eventually dismissed. Supreme Court granted summary judgment for Defendants on their counterclaims, concluding that the contract had “expired by its terms” and that Plaintiff” materially breached the contract.” The Appellate Division affirmed, concluding that a rescission action unequivocally evinces a plaintiff’s intent to disavow its contractual obligations, and therefore, the commencement of such an action before the date of performance constitutes an anticipatory breach. The Court of Appeals reversed, holding that the commencement of this action did not reflect a repudiation of the contract. View "Princes Point LLC v. Muss Development LLC" on Justia Law

Posted in: Contracts

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Certain records compiled by Respondent, New York State Education Department, relating to municipalities’ plans for auditing special education preschool provider costs, as redacted, are exempt from disclosure under N.Y. Pub. Off. Law 87(2)(e)(i). Petitioner submitted a request to Respondent pursuant to the Freedom of Information Law seeking disclosure of documents relating to municipalities’ plans for auditing special education preschool provider costs. The Department initially denied the request but, after Petitioner commenced this proceeding directing the Department to provide her with the records sought, eventually released fifty-five pages. Supreme Court granted Petitioner's petition to the limited extent of requiring the Department to disclose two previously redacted pages, upheld the remainder of the redactions, and otherwise dismissed the proceeding, concluding that the majority of the Department’s redactions were appropriate under section 87(2)(e). The Appellate Division affirmed. The Court of Appeals affirmed as modified, holding (1) the redactions at issue fit within the exemption permitting an agency to deny access to records compiled for law enforcement purposes where their disclosure would interfere with an investigation; and (2) the Appellate Division erred in denying Petitioner’s request for attorneys’ fees. View "Madeiros v. New York State Education Department" on Justia Law

Posted in: Education Law