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At issue in this case was whether the trial court erred in admitting into evidence a contempt order issued in a civil proceeding involving the same funds Defendant was criminally charged with stealing. Supreme Court granted the People permission to introduce the contempt order as Molineux evidence. The Court of Appeals concluded that the contempt order did not constitute Molineux evidence but that the Appellate Division correctly concluded that the contempt order was relevant to prove Defendant’s larcenous intent. Further, the probative value of the contempt order was not substantially outweighed by the danger of undue prejudice to Defendant, and therefore, the trial court did not abuse its discretion as a matter of law by admitting the contempt order into evidence. View "People v. Frumusa" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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A city-employer's failure to provide information to a union for the purposes of representing nurse-employees in their disciplinary proceedings was improper. Two members of the New York State Nurses Association (the Union) employed by New York City’s Human Resources Administration (HRA) were served with disciplinary charges. The Union requested information from HRA for the purposes of representing the employees in their disciplinary proceedings, but the City refused to provide any of the requested information. After it was recommended that the nurses’ employment be terminated, the Union filed an improper practice action alleging that the HRA’s failure to provide the requested information violated New York City Collective Bargaining Law 12-306(c)(4). The Board of Collective Bargaining of the City of New York found that it was an improper practice for the City to refuse to respond to a large portion of the information requests. Supreme Court annulled the Board’s determination, concluding that the Board improperly extended the right to obtain information for grievances pursuant to contract administration to disciplinary proceedings. The Appellate Division reversed, concluding that the Board’s decision had a rational basis. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that the City was required to furnish the information specified by the Board. View "City of New York v. New York State Nurses Ass’n" on Justia Law

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After a jury trial, Defendant was convicted of intentional murder in the second degree and two counts of criminal possession of a weapon in the second degree. Defendant appealed, arguing that the trial court erred in declining to give an adverse inference charge where law enforcement collected video surveillance footage of the crime scene but the evidence was lost prior to trial. The Appellate Division affirmed. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding (1) under the circumstances of this case, the trial court erred in failing to give an adverse inference jury instruction; but (2) given the strength of the People’s case, the error was harmless. View "People v. Viruet" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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At issue in this case was New York City’s 2001 zoning amendments that affected the City’s adult entertainment industry. Plaintiffs, an adult video store and an establishment that showed adult films, brought this case seeking a declaration that the 2001 amendments were facially unconstitutional as a violation of free speech. After years of litigation, the Court of Appeals ruled that judgment be granted in favor of the City, holding that the City met its burden of demonstrating that the establishments affected by the City’s 2001 zoning amendments retained a continued focus on sexually explicit materials or activities. Therefore, under a 2005 decision of the Court of Appeals in this case, the amendments did not violate Plaintiffs’ First Amendment rights. View "For the People Theatres of N.Y. Inc. v. City of New York" on Justia Law

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Where an insurance policy is restricted to liability for any bodily injury “caused, in whole or in part” by the “acts of omissions” of the named insured, the coverage applies to injury proximately caused by the named insured. The Appellate Division denied summary judgment in favor of the insurance company on the issue of coverage after interpreting this policy language as extending coverage broadly to any injury causally linked to the named insured. The court also concluded that an additional insured may collect for an injury caused solely by its own negligence even where the named insured bears no legal fault for the underlying harm. The Court of Appeals reversed, holding that the language “caused, in whole or in part” requires the insured to be the proximate cause of the injury giving rise to liability, not merely the “but for” cause. View "Burlington Insurance Co. v. New York City Transit Authority" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs brought this hybrid N.Y. C.P.L.R. 78 proceeding and a declaratory judgment action seeking to enjoin the proposed development of parkland in Queens. The proposed development, called Willets West, involved the construction of a shopping mall and movie theater where Shea Stadium once stood. Plaintiffs alleged that because the development was located within parkland, the public trust doctrine required legislative authorization. Supreme Court denied the petition. The Appellate Division reversed and granted the petition to the extent of declaring that construction of the development on city parkland without the authorization of the state legislature violated the public trust doctrine. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that the statutory language and legislative history demonstrated that the legislature did not grant the City the authority to contract a development such as Willets West in Flushing Meadows Park. View "Avella v. City of New York" on Justia Law

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The Court of Appeals held that, for cases commenced before the effective date of the 2015 amendment to the Human Rights Law, the Equal Access to Justice Act (EAJA) permits the award of reasonable attorneys’ fees and costs to a prevailing plaintiff against the State under the Human Rights Law for sex discrimination in employment by a state agency. In so holding, the Court of Appeals affirmed the judgment of the Appellate Division, concluding that the civil action in this case was eligible for an award of attorneys’ fees. Previously, Supreme Court held that attorneys’ fees and costs should not be awarded because the EAJA did not apply “where a plaintiff has recovered compensatory damages for tortious acts of the State and its employees.” View "Kimmel v. State" on Justia Law

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Three petitions challenged the validity of regulations of the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) governing the relicensing of recidivist drunk driving offenders and sought restoration of their driving privileges. The first two petitioners in this case were convicted of drunk driving for a third time, and the third petitioner was convicted of drunk driving for a sixth time. The driver’s licenses of all three petitioners were revoked pursuant to the Vehicle and Traffic Law. The Court of Appeals rejected the petitioners’ challenges and affirmed, holding that the lower courts properly upheld the regulations and their application to the petitioners’ relicensing applications as a valid exercise of the delegated authority of the Commissioner of the DMV. View "Acevedo v. New York State Department of Motor Vehicles" on Justia Law

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The Court of Appeals held in this criminal case that, to ensure road safety, a police officer may run a license plate number through a government database to check for any outstanding violations or suspensions on the registration of the vehicle without any suspicion of wrongdoing, and such a check does not constitute a search. The Court further held that information obtained indicating the registration of the vehicle was in violation of the law as a result of this check may provide probable cause for the officer to stop the driver of the vehicle. In so holding, the Court affirmed the intermediate appellate court’s reversal of the suppression court’s suppression of the evidence in this case, determining that the license plate check of Defendant’s vehicle and the traffic stop of Defendant’s vehicle and his person were lawful. View "People v. Bushey" on Justia Law

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The Court of Appeals affirmed Defendant’s conviction on one count of first-degree assault, holding that the trial court eliminated any prejudice to Defendant from testimony that deprived Defendant of his right to confront this witness by striking the offending testimony from the record and instructing the jury to disregard the statements. The Appellate Division also concluded that the trial court prevented any prejudice to Defendant by striking the challenged portion of the witness’s testimony and instructing the jury to disregard it. Defendant’s remaining claim that he was entitled to a hearing on his N.Y. Crim. Proc. Law 330.30 motion was without merit. View "People v. Stone" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law