Articles Posted in New York Court of Appeals

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Because the record in this criminal case failed to establish that the trial court provided counsel with meaningful notice of the precise contents of two substantive jury notes in discharge of a core obligation under N.Y. Crim. Proc. Law 310.30, a mode of proceedings error occurred and a new trial must be ordered. On appeal from their convictions for robbery in the second degree, Defendants Lawrence Parker and Mark Nonni argued, among other things, that the trial court failed to provide counsel with notice of jury requests for information during deliberations. The Court of Appeals reversed the convictions, holding that because there was no record indicating that counsel was informed of the precise contents of two of the jury’s three substantive notes, the court failed to fulfill its obligation under People v. O’Rama, 78 N.Y. 2d 270 (1991), and its progeny. View "People v. Parker" on Justia Law

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Because Defendant and the court supervising Defendant’s waiver of the right to indictment by a grand jury followed the procedure set forth under N.Y. Const. art. I, 6 by signing a written instrument in open court in the presence of his counsel, the Court of Appeals affirmed Defendant’s conviction. On appeal from the judgment of conviction and sentence, Defendant argued that his waiver of indictment was invalid because there was no evidence in the record that it was executed in open court and because there was no colloquy with the court on the subject. The Appellate Division upheld the validity of the waiver. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding (1) the Constitution precludes a holding that a waiver of the right to indictment by grand jury is ineffective unless a judge conducts an oral inquiry on the record; and (2) contrary to Defendant’s arguments, the record evidenced that the waiver was signed in open court, and there was nothing in the record to suggest that Defendant did not understand what he was waiving. View "People v. Myers" on Justia Law

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The Court of Appeals affirmed Defendant’s conviction for assault in the second degree, holding that Defendant’s claim on appeal were either unpreserved or meritless. On appeal, Defendant argued that the trial court erred by failing to inquire as to a juror’s impartiality and fairness, as required by People v. Buford, 69 N.Y.2d 290 (1987), and erred by permitting prejudicial testimony about gang customs and practices. The Court of Appeals held (1) Defendant did not preserve for appellate review his claim that the trial court erred in failing to inquire about a juror’s impartiality and fairness; and (2) Defendant’s objection to the challenged testimony as wholly inadmissible was without merit. View "People v. Bailey" on Justia Law

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The Court of Appeals affirmed the order of the Appellate Division affirming the judgment of the trial court convincing defendant of first-degree depraved indifference assault and second-degree intentional assault, holding that there was sufficient evidence to support Defendant’s conviction for depraved indifference assault. On appeal, the Appellate Division held that the People adduced legally sufficient evidence to support Defendant’s conviction of assault in the first degree beyond a reasonable doubt, as the evidence of Defendant’s conduct supported a finding of depraved indifference. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that the evidence presented the jury with a valid line of reasoning to find Defendant guilty of depraved indifference assault. View "People v. Wilson" on Justia Law

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Where a defendant has been convicted by guilty plea, there is no actual innocence claim cognizable under N.Y. Crim. Proc. Law 440.10(1)(h) to vacate the judgment of conviction. Defendant pleaded guilty to endangering the welfare of an incompetent or physically disabled person in the first degree. Defendant moved pursuant to N.Y. Crim. Proc. Law 440.10(1)(h) to vacate the judgment, alleging that her guilty plea was constitutionally obtained due to the ineffective assistance of her counsel. County Court summarily denied the 440 motion, concluding that, even assuming a claim of actual innocence lies from a guilty plea, Defendant failed to provide clear and convincing evidence warranting such relief. The Appellate Division reversed and authorizing a hearing on Defendant’s actual innocence claim. The Court of Appeals reversed, holding that the branch of Defendant’s 440.10 motion that was based on an independent claim of actual innocence was foreclosed. View "People v. Tiger" on Justia Law

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The Court of Appeals reversed the decision of the Appellate Division concluding that Defendant’s statements during an interrogation on a murder charge regarding the murder should have been suppressed because the murder charge was factually related to a robbery charge and Supreme Court had suppressed Defendant’s statements regarding the robbery. Defendant was charged with multiple counts of robbery in the first degree, murder in the second degree, and other charges. Defendant moved to suppress his statements regarding the robbery and murder as having been obtained in violation of his right to counsel, which attached as to the marijuana charge. Supreme Court suppressed Defendant’s statements regarding to the robbery, reasoning that the robbery and marijuana charges were related under People v. Cohen, 90 N.Y.2d 632 (N.Y. 1997), but refused to suppress Defendant’s statements regarding the murder because the murder and marijuana charges were unrelated. The Appellate Division ruled that Defendant’s statements to the police regarding the murder charge should have been suppressed. The Court of Appeals reversed, holding that the Appellate Division misapplied N.Y. Crim. Proc. Law 470.15 and the standard established by this Court’s decision in Cohen. View "People v. Henry" on Justia Law

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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

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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

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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

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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