Articles Posted in New York Court of Appeals

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The Court of Appeals affirmed the decision of the Appellate Division affirming the judgment of Supreme Court granting Defendants' motion to compel Plaintiff to post a minimum of $500 security in this personal injury action, holding that N.Y. C.P.L.R. 8501(a) and 8503 do not violate the Privileges and Immunities Clause set forth in article IV, section 2 of the United States Constitution by depriving noncitizens of New York reasonable and adequate access to New York courts. At issue in this personal injury action was New York’s longstanding security for costs provisions that treat resident and nonresident litigants differently. Plaintiff was a New York resident when she commenced this action, but after she relocated to Georgia, Defendants moved, pursuant to sections 8501(a) and 8503, for an order compelling Plaintiff to post a minimum of $500 security for costs in the event she lost the case. Supreme Court granted Defendants’ motion, concluding that the statutes do not bar access to the courts. The Appellate Division affirmed. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that sections 8501(a) and 8503 do not unduly burden nonresidents’ fundamental right to access the courts because nonresidents are provided reasonable and adequate access to the New York courts. View "Clement v. Durban" on Justia Law

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The Court of Appeals held that a defendant is not entitled to a writ of error coram nobis to bypass the limitation set by the legislature in N.Y. Crim. Proc. Law 460.30 in which to file a criminal leave application (CLA) seeking leave to appeal to this Court. This case followed the decision of In People v. Andrews, 23 N.Y.3d 605, 616 (2014), in which the Court of Appeals concluded that counsel’s failure to timely file a CLA to the Court of Appeals within the thirty-day statutory timeframe or move pursuant to CPL 460.30 within the one-year grace period for an extension to cure the error does not constitute ineffective assistance or deprive the defendant of due process. In this case, the Court of Appeals held that because there is no state constitutional right to legal representation on an application for leave to appeal to this Court, Defendant could not seek relief in coram nobis to negate the one-year time limitation on the remedy provided in CPL 460.30 for his attorney’s failure to file a timely CLA where there was no constitutional violation. View "People v. Grimes" on Justia Law

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At issue was whether Family Court can find that the New York City Administration for Children’s Services (ACS) made “reasonable efforts” toward family reunifications, as required by N.Y. Fam. Ct. 1089, if ACS failed to provide the “reasonable accommodations” required by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Mother, an intellectually disabled individual, moved Family Court for a determination that ACS had not made reasonable efforts to reunite her with her child because ACS had not complied with the ADA by ensuring that she had access to certain services. Family Court responded by requiring ACS to provide the services Mother claimed as “reasonable accommodations” under the ADA. ACS generally provided those services. The Appellate Division determined that ACS had made reasonable efforts to provide Mother with services to facilitate the permanency goal of “return to parent.” The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that the record supported the Family Court’s conclusion that ACS’s efforts met a minimum threshold of reasonableness. View "In re Lacee L." on Justia Law

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The Court of Appeals reversed the judgment of the Appellate Division remanding this criminal case for a new trial, holding that the trial court’s determination that Defendant’s request to proceed pro se, made near the conclusion of jury selection, was untimely was not in error. The day after the parties began jury selection, Defendant voluntarily appeared and, for the first time, asked to represent himself. The trial court rejected Defendant’s request to proceed pro se, concluding that it was too late to make the request. Defendant was ultimately convicted of assault in the first degree and criminal possession of a weapon in the third degree. The Appellate Division reversed, concluding that Defendant’s requests to represent himself were timely because they occurred before opening statements. The Court of Appeals reversed, holding (1) a request to represent oneself in a criminal trial is timely where the application to proceed pro se is made before the trial commences; and (2) therefore, the trial court properly determined that Defendant’s request to represent himself was untimely. View "People v. Crespo" 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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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