The issue before the Court is whether a joint trial should proceed (judicial economy) or where the trial should be severed (because of prejudice to one or more of the Defendants). In making its decision, the Court heavily relies upon the Sixth Amendment Confrontation Clause, through Crawford and its progeny, and the Defendants’ Due Process Rights to a Fair Trial. In so doing, the Court notes that

Severance may be granted for cases in which multiple defendants have antagonistic defenses. People v. Mahboubian, 74 NY2d 174 [1989]. Even if the charges against multiple defendants are properly joined in a single indictment, a trial court may grant severance “for good cause shown,” from which a court finds that a “defendant will be unduly prejudiced by a joint trial.” CPL §200.40(1). “Where proof against the defendants is supplied by the same evidence, only the most cogent reasons warrant severance.'” People v. Mahboubian, 74 NY2d 174, 183, citing, People v. Bornholdt, 33 NY2d 75, 87 [1973].

Severance is not required, even in those cases in which there is hostility between or amongst the parties, different trial strategies, or inconsistencies in each defense. People v. Cruz, 66 NY2d 61 [1985], rev’d on other grounds and remanded, 481 US 61. “It must appear that a joint trial necessarily will, or did, result in unfair prejudice to the moving party and substantially impair his defense.” Id., at 73, 74. In determining whether defenses are sufficiently antagonistic, therefore requiring severance, a court looks to two tests. In the first, a court must determine whether the defenses are logically inconsistent — whether the core of each defense is rationally irreconcilable with the other. See United States v. Romanello, 726 F2d 173 [5th Cir. 1984]. In the second test, a court must consider whether there is a danger that a jury will unjustifiably infer a defendant’s guilt because of the conflicting and irreconcilable defenses. See Rhone v. United States, 365 F2d 980 [DC Cir. 1966]. In New York, more specifically, “severance is compelled where the core of each defense is in irreconcilable conflict with the other and where there is a significant danger, as both defenses are portrayed to the trial court, that the conflict alone would lead the jury to infer defendant’s guilt.” Mahboubian, 74 NY2d 174, 184.

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In a strange twist, a convicted felon, pro se, wins another crack at a suppression hearing on the basis of ineffective assistance of counsel. The  Court noted that the “record is sufficient to establish that defendant received ineffective assistance when his trial counsel failed to move to reopen the suppression hearing based on trial testimony” contradicting a previous statement(s) by law enforcement. Pp. 2. Noting the standard for reopening a suppression hearing, the Court observed that:

Under CPL 710.40(4), a suppression hearing may be reopened upon a showing that the defendant has discovered “additional pertinent facts” that “could not have [been] discovered with reasonable diligence before the determination of the motion.” Here, the additional facts were “pertinent” because the superintendent’s testimony, if credited, would have undermined the ruling that the tools were admissible because they were in plain view. This was not a minor or routine inconsistency; the superintendent’s version was completely at odds with a plain view theory. Any issue of whose recollection was most reliable should have been presented to the hearing court. With regard to the “reasonable diligence” requirement, the People argue that it was not met here because defendant, who was standing several feet from the superintendent when the police arrived, was in a position to know whether the bag was closed or open at the time. Under the rule the People posit, evidence adduced for the first time from a witness at trial — no matter how reliable the witness, how unlikely he or she would have been to cooperate with the defense investigation before trial, or how conclusively his or her testimony would undermine the suppression ruling — would never entitle a defendant to a reopened hearing, so long as the defendant was in a position where he or she could have observed the same events as the witness. We reject such a narrow reading of the statute (see e.g. People v. Figliolo, 207 AD2d 679 [1st Dept 1994]). While, as a general matter, a defendant may be presumed to have knowledge of the circumstances surrounding his or her arrest (see People v. Hankins, 265 AD2d 572 [2d Dept 1999], lv denied 94 NY2d 880 [2000]), that presumption is not mandatory, and the principle does not mandate the conclusion that such knowledge existed under the particular facts of this case.

The Court notes that the Defendant “could not have known that a People’s witness would completely contradict the police officers on the critical suppression issue. Moreover, if at the hearing, he had taken the stand to present his account of the arrest, his credibility would have been subject to impeachment because his status as an interested witness and his lengthy criminal record.” Pp. 2. In making its conclusion, the Court finds that “it is far more likely that counsel, who did not represent defendant at the suppression hearing, did not focus on the contradiction and gave no thought to a motion to reopen. More importantly, even if the dissent is correct about counsel’s subjective belief that the superintendent was mistaken about the police opening the bag, it is difficult to comprehend how opting not to give the court the opportunity to make that credibility determination for itself can be deemed a competent strategy.” P. 3. more

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Although the victim did not die immediately, the injuries caused by the defendant here, eventually, resulted in the death of the victim. The victim here was elderly, almost one-hundred years old, – “[t]he conviction arises from a home invasion burglary during which the 96-year-old victim sustained, among other injuries, a subdural hematoma and so many broken facial bones that his skull remained distorted when he died approximately five months later.” Pp. 1.

The Court repeats the longstanding rule in New York:

” [i]f a person inflicts a wound . . . in such manner as to put life in jeopardy, and death follows as a consequence of this felonious and wicked act, it does not alter its nature or diminish its criminality to prove that other causes cooperated in producing the fatal result. Indeed, it may be said that neglect of the wound or its unskillful and improper treatment, which were of themselves consequences of the criminal act, which might naturally follow in any case, must in law be deemed to have been among those which were in contemplation of the guilty party, and for which he is to be held responsible’ ” (People v Kane, 213 NY 260, 274). Thus, “[f]or criminal liability to attach, a defendant’s actions must have been an actual contributory cause of death, in the sense that they forged a link in the chain of causes which actually brought about the death’ ” (Matter of Anthony M., 63 NY2d 270, 280). Additionally, the “defendant’s acts need not be the sole cause of death; where the necessary causative link is established, other causes, such as a victim’s preexisting condition, will not relieve the defendant of responsibility for homicide . . . By the same token, death need not follow on the heels of injury” (id. at 280).

What is interesting about this case is that the victim did not die immediately. Indeed, the court repeats over and over again that the victim was 96 years old – well past any of my relatives…

Here, the evidence established that defendant repeatedly struck the 96-year-old victim in the face and head, thereby fracturing the victim’s orbit, sinuses, and jaw in numerous places and causing a subdural hematoma, and that many of those injuries had not healed at the time of his death approximately five months later. Thus, we conclude that “the ultimate harm, i.e., death, was a reasonably foreseeable result of [that] conduct’ ” (People v Cox, 21 AD3d 1361, 1362-1363, lv denied 6 NY3d 753). Although defendant’s expert testified that the victim died of his advancing Alzheimer’s-type dementia, the Medical Examiner testified that the injuries that the [*2]victim sustained in this attack were the cause of his death. Thus, the court “was presented with conflicting expert testimony regarding the cause of death, and the record supports its decision to credit the People’s expert testimony” (People v Fields, 16 AD3d 142, 142, lv denied 4 NY3d 886; see generally People v Miller, 91 NY2d 372, 380). Consequently, we conclude that, although other possible causes of the victim’s death were not eliminated, the medical evidence, viewed in the light most favorable to the prosecution, is legally sufficient to establish that defendant’s acts “were at least a contributing cause of” the victim’s death (Anthony M., 63 NY2d at 281).

Albeit nearing one-hundred years old, the victim’s death was attributable to the Defendant and therefore the Defendant’s conviction was upheld. The case is People v. Pratcher, 2015 NY Slip Op 09730 (Dec. 31, 2015).

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The Defendant here is charged with Criminal Trespass in the Second Degree (PL §140.15[1]), Criminal Trespass in the Third Degree (PL §140.10[a]), and Trespass (PL §140.05). Defendant moved pursuant to CPL §§ 170.30(1)(e) and 30.30 to dismiss the accusatory instrument on speedy trial grounds.

The case delineates the procedural history very carefully:

  • On May 14, 2015, defendant was arraigned on a misdemeanor complaint and the case was adjourned to July 6, 2015 to join. The People stated that they were ready as to all counts.
  • On July 6, 2015, the case was adjourned to August 17, 2015 for motion practice. This court directed defendant to file his motions on or before July 27, 2015.
  • On August 17, 2015, defendant filed a motion to dismiss on the grounds of facial insufficiency. The case was thereafter adjourned to November 10, 2015 for response and decision. In their papers in opposition filed on September 29, 2015, the People conceded that the accusatory instrument was facially insufficient. The People also submitted as an exhibit to their affirmation in opposition a copy of a superseding information which purportedly cured all of the defects in the original accusatory instrument. Pp. 1 (external quotation marks omitted)

The Court, somehow unaware of the speedy trial motion to dismiss, dismissed the misdemeanor informations on the basis of facial insufficiency. The People refiled the charges and the defendant moves to dismiss, again, on speedy trial grounds. The People contest the instant motion on the grounds that no time has run against the People because the People filed new charges. more