Articles Posted in New York Court of Appeals

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After a jury trial, Defendant was found guilty of first-degree course of sexual conduct against a child. The Appellate Division affirmed. Defendant appealed, arguing that he was denied the effective assistance of counsel due to counsel’s failure to object to the admission of evidence that the victim disclosed the abuse three years after it ceased and then again four years after her initial disclosure. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that Defendant failed to demonstrate the absence of strategic or legitimate explanations for counsel’s failure to object to the evidence at issue. View "People v. Honghirun" on Justia Law

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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

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Under the circumstances of this case, where an alleged instructional defect was actually a typographical error, Supreme Court did not abuse its discretion in resettling the transcript without a hearing. Defendant was convicted of murder in the second degree and criminal possession of a weapon in the second degree. On appeal, Defendant argued that he was denied a fair trial because Supreme Court provided a supplemental jury instruction that described intentional murder as an unintentional crime, thereby relieving the People of the burden of establishing a crucial element of the charge. Thereafter, the People, believing that the defect in the instruction was the result of a typographical error, asked the court reporter to consult her notes. The reporter advised the People that the two relevant instances of the word “unintentional” should instead have been transcribed as “intentional." The reporter then prepared a certified corrected transcript. Supreme Court then ruled that the record would be resettled in accordance with the correct transcript without a reconstruction hearing. The Appellate Division upheld the judgment of Supreme Court. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that Supreme Court did not act outside its discretion to resettle the transcript without a hearing. View "People v. Bethune" 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

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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

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Defendant appealed the denial of his motion to suppress a firearm recovered from his vehicle, arguing primarily that the challenged search was unlawful under the Court of Appeals’ holding in People v. Huntley because it was premised on his status as a parolee but was conducted by police officers, not by his parole officer. The Court of Appeals affirmed Defendant’s convictions for criminal possession of a weapon in the second and third degrees and unlawful possession of marihuana, holding (1) a tip indicating that Defendant had a firearm in his vehicle taken together with Defendant’s reduced expectation of privacy provided support in the record for the conclusion that the search of Defendant’s vehicle was lawful and reasonable; and (2) there was support in the record for the trial court’s rejection of Defendant’s proffered race-neutral reason for exercising a peremptory challenge as to a prospective juror as pretextual. View "People v. McMillan" on Justia Law

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The Court of Appeals held that, when a defendant asserts an agency defense supported solely by portions of the People’s case-in-chief on the People’s direct case, a trial court may exercise its discretion to entertain the People’s application pursuant to People v. Molineux to allow into evidence a defendant’s prior drug sale conviction on the issue of the intent to sell the drugs. The Court of Appeals affirmed the Appellate Division’s decision, concluding that the trial court in this case properly allowed the People to introduce evidence of Defendant’s prior drug sale conviction on the issue of intent in their case-in-chief where Defendant essentially adopted the portions of the evidence elicited by the People that supported an agency defense. View "People v. Valentin" on Justia Law

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In 2013, Supreme Court issued 381 warrants directed at Facebook upon a warrant application by the New York County District Attorney’s Office that was supported by an investigator’s affidavit. The warrants sought the account information and communications of various Facebook subscribers in connection with a criminal investigation. Facebook moved to quash the warrants, arguing that they were overbroad and lacked particularity. Supreme Court denied the motion. While Facebook’s appeal was pending, Facebook moved for an order compelling disclosure of the investigator’s support affidavit. Supreme Court denied the motion to compel disclosure of the affidavit. Facebook appealed that order as well. The Appellate Division dismissed both of Facebook’s appeals on the ground that they were taken from nonappealable orders. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that because the orders resolving Facebook’s motions relate to warrants issued in a criminal proceeding, and the Criminal Procedure Law does not authorize an appeal from either order, Supreme Court properly denied the two motions at issue here. View "In re 381 Search Warrants Directed to Facebook, Inc." on Justia Law