Articles Posted in New York Court of Appeals

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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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At issue was whether the Criminal Court properly suppressed Defendant’s breathalyzer test results on the grounds that Defendant’s consent, given in response to “inappropriate warnings,” was involuntary. Criminal Court suppressed both Defendant’s initial refusal to take the breathalyzer test and the test results, ruling (1) because the refusal occurred more than two hours after arrest, under People v. Atkins, 85 N.Y.2d 1007, 1008 (1995), the People must show that consent was express and voluntary; and (2) the People failed to demonstrate that Defendant’s consent was voluntary and not the result of coercive conduct by the officer because Defendant consented only after the officer gave the improper warnings. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that the test results were properly suppressed because the breathalyzer test was not administered in accordance with the requirements of N.Y. Veh. & Traf. Law 1194 and Defendant’s consent to take the test was not voluntary, as required by Adkins. View "People v. Odum" on Justia Law

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The Court of Appeals affirmed Defendant’s convictions for criminal possession of a weapon in the second degree, aggravated unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle in the third degree, and a related offense, holding that Defendant’s arguments on appeal were not consistent with the controlling law. On appeal, Defendant argued (1) he was denied his constitutional right of self-representation when the trial court denied his request to proceed pro se with “standby counsel” without making any further inquiry; and (2) he was deprived of a fair trial when the trial court precluded his proffered psychiatric testimony for failure to serve notice on the People. The Appellate Division affirmed. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding (1) a trial court has the discretion to conduct further colloquy where a defendant does not unequivocally request to proceed without counsel but instead prefers to proceed with the assistance of counsel; and (2) the trial court did not err in precluding Defendant’s unnoticed psychiatric evidence because there was no justification for the surprise, and to allow it would contradict the statutory purpose behind the notice requirement. View "People v. Silburn" on Justia Law

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A computer generated image may constitute a “portrait” within the meaning of N.Y. Civ. Rights Law 50 and 51, but the disputed images in the video game central to this matter were not recognizable as Lindsay Lohan, and therefore, Lohan’s complaint was properly dismissed. Lohan claimed that the Lacey Jonas character in the Grand Theft Auto V (GTAV) game was her lookalike and misappropriated her portrait and voice. Lohan also claimed that images on various promotional materials and packing for the GTAV cumulatively evoked her images, portrait, and persona. Lohan commenced this action seeking, in part, compensatory and punitive damages for invasion of privacy in violation of N.Y. Civ. Rights Law 50 and 51. The Appellate Division granted Defendants’ motion to dismiss the complaint for failure to state a cause of action. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding (1) a graphical representation in a video game or like media may constitute a “portrait” within the meaning of the Civil Rights Law; and (2) the representations in question were not recognizable as Lohan and therefore not actionable under the Civil Rights Law. View "Lohan v. Take-Two Interactive Software, Inc." on Justia Law

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The lengthy delay between Defendant’s arrest in this case and his eventual guilty plea violated his constitutional right to a speedy trial. Defendant was charged in an indictment with murder in the second degree and other crimes. The time between Defendant’s arrest and his eventual guilty plea spanned six years, three months, and twenty-five days. Defendant spent the entirety of that period incarcerated. On appeal, the Appellate Division held that Defendant’s constitutional right to a speedy trial was not violated. The Court of Appeals reversed the order of the Appellate Division and dismissed the indictment, holding that, after evaluating all the relevant factors set forth in People v. Taranovich, 37 N.Y.2d 442 (1975), under the circumstances of this case, Defendant’s constitutional right to a speedy trial was violated. View "People v. Wiggins" on Justia Law

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The Court of Appeals modified the order of the Appellate Division that reversed a judgment by Supreme Court, vacated Defendant’s pleas, and dismissed Defendant’s indictment without prejudice. The People filed a motion to compel a DNA test and served the motion on retained defense counsel. The trial court, in Defendant’s absence, granted retained counsel’s motion to be relieved from representing Defendant and granted the People’s DNA discovery motion. After counsel was relieved, Defendant appeared in court. The court proceeding to act in place of counsel throughout an extensive colloquy. Notwithstanding Defendant’s entreaties for an attorney to advise him regarding the motion to compel a DNA test, the court rejected Defendant’s requests for an attorney. The Court of Appeals held that the Appellate Division correctly determined that Defendant was deprived his right to counsel during the pretrial proceedings concerning the DNA test. The court further held, however, that dismissal of the indictment was not “necessary and appropriate” to rectify the injustice to Defendant. View "People v. Smith" on Justia Law

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A plaintiff is entitled to punitive damages under the New York City Human Rights Law (NYCHRL) where the wrongdoer’s actions amount to willful or wanton negligence, or recklessness, or where there is a “conscious disregard of the rights of others or conduct so reckless as to amount to such disregard.” Plaintiff, a physical therapy aide, sued her former employer and two supervisory employees for sex and pregnancy discrimination under the NYCHRL and Title VII. At trial, the court applied to the NYCHRL the standard for punitive damages found in Title VII. The jury found Defendants liable for pregnancy discrimination and awarded $10,500 in compensatory damages and $50,000 in pain and suffering. Plaintiff appealed, arguing that the district court erred in importing the Title VII standard. The Second Circuit certified to the Court of Appeals a question regarding the standard for finding a defendant liable for punitive damages under the NYCHRL. The Court of Appeals answered as set forth above. View "Chauca v. Abraham" on Justia 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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Sections 8-102(16)(c) and 8-107(1)(a) of the New York City Administrative Code preclude a plaintiff from bringing a disability discrimination claim based solely on a perception of untreated alcoholism. Plaintiffs, officers with the New York City Police Department, were referred to the internal counseling services unit of that police force (CSU) for assistance with their purported alcohol abuse. The CSU determined that each plaintiff suffered from alcoholism. The parties now agree that Plaintiffs were not actually alcoholics. Plaintiffs brought this action alleging that Defendants discriminated against them by subjecting them to adverse employment actions based on the mistakenly perceived disability of alcoholism. The jury returned a verdict in favor of Plaintiffs pursuant to the New York City Human Rights Law (NYCHRL). Defendants appealed. In answer to a question certified to it by the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, the Court of Appeals held that the Administrative Code does not consider a mistaken perception of alcoholism to be a disability covered by the NYCHRL. View "Makinen v. City of New York" on Justia Law

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The Court of Appeals rejected Plaintiffs’ argument that an individual has a fundamental constitutional right to aid-in-dying as defined by Plaintiffs and also rejected Plaintiffs’ assertion that the State’s prohibition on assisted suicide is not rationally related to legitimate state interests. Plaintiffs filed this action requesting declaratory and injunctive relief to permit “aid-in-dying,” which would allow a mentally competent, terminally ill patient to obtain a prescription from a physician to cause death. The Attorney General filed a motion to dismiss on the grounds that Plaintiffs failed to state a cause of action and did not present a justiciable controversy. Supreme Court granted the motion. The Appellate Division affirmed as modified, declaring that the assisted suicide statutes provide a valid statutory basis to prosecute physicians who provide aid-in-dying and that the statutes do not violate the New York Constitution. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding (1) the State Constitution’s Due Process Clause does not encompass a fundamental right to physician-assisted suicide; and (2) the State’s prohibition is rationally related to a number of legitimate state interests, and heightened scrutiny is unwarranted. View "Myers v. Schneiderman" on Justia Law