Justia Civil Rights Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in New York Court of Appeals
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The Court of Appeals affirmed Defendant's conviction of four counts of assault in the first degree for his participation in an attack involving two victims, holding that Defendant's allegations of error were unavailing.On appeal, the appellate division considered together Defendant's direct appeal from the judgment and his appeal by permission from Supreme Court's order denying his motion to vacate the judgment. The appellate division denied all relief, concluding that Defendant failed to show that he was denied the effective assistance of counsel. On appeal, Defendant argued that his retained attorney's suspension from practice by the United States Court of Appeals, Second Circuit rendered the attorney "constructively suspended" from the practice of law in New York and that, alternatively, his attorney's failure to inform him of of the suspension and pending reciprocal disciplinary proceedings in New York deprived him of his constitutionally-protected right to choice of counsel. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that Defendant was not deprived of the attorney of his choice solely due to the imposition of foreign discipline. View "People v. Burgos" on Justia Law

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The Court of Appeals reversed Defendant's conviction on several counts related to the possession of firearms and controlled substances, holding that reversal was required because no Frye hearing was held on the admissibility of statistical evidence generated by the forensic statistical tool (FST) developed by the New York City Office of Chief Medical Examiner, where it was alleged that Defendant was a contributor to a multiple-source DNA profile.On appeal, Defendant argued, among other things, that his motion to suppress should have been granted because the "pedigree exception" to the Miranda requirement did not apply under the facts of his case. The Court of Appeals reversed, holding (1) a police officer's question to Defendant regarding where he lived fell within the pedigree exception to Miranda, and therefore, Defendant's suppression motion was properly denied; and (2) the trial court abused its discretion when it denied Defendant's motion for a Frye hearing with respect to the admissibility of the evidence derived from the FST on the multiple-source DNA sample. View "People v. Wortham" on Justia Law

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The Court of Appeals reversed the order of the appellate division affirming Defendant's conviction of grand larceny in the third degree, holding that Defendant neither forfeited his right to counsel nor validly waived his right to appeal.After several of Defendant's attorneys withdrew from representing Defendant, Defendant was forced to represent himself. The jury found Defendant guilty as charged. At sentencing, pursuant to an agreement, Defendant signed a written waiver of his right to appeal in exchange for a recommendation of time served. County Court sentenced Defendant to time served. On appeal, Defendant argued that the appeal waiver was invalid and that his Sixth Amendment right to counsel had been violated. The appellate division affirmed. The Court of Appeals reversed and ordered a new trial, holding (1) the lower courts erred in determining that Defendant's conduct with assigned counsel was so egregious as to constitute forfeiture of the right to counsel; and (2) Defendant's appeal waiver was invalid. View "People v. Shanks" on Justia Law

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The Court of Appeals reversed the order of the appellate division affirming the judgment of Supreme Court dismissing this complaint for failure to state a claim, holding that Plaintiff's allegations were sufficient to survive a motion to dismiss.Plaintiff brought this action alleging that Defendant, his former employers, violated the antidiscrimination statutes by denying his application for employment following the completion of his criminal sentence. Defendant moved to dismiss the complaint for failure to state a claim. Supreme Court granted the motion, and the Appellate Division affirmed. The Court of Appeals reversed, holding that Plaintiff adequately alleged a violation of the antidiscrimination statutes. View "Sassi v. Mobile Life Support Services, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Court of Appeals affirmed the judgments of the trial courts in these two cases convicting Defendants of violating Administrative Code of the City of New York 19-190, known as the "Right of Way Law," holding that the statute is not unconstitutional.The Right of Way Law makes it a misdemeanor for a driver, while failing to exercise due care, to make contact with a pedestrian or bicyclist who has the right of way and thereby cause physical injury. Both defendants in these cases were charged with violating the Right of Way Law, a misdemeanor. Defendants argued that the law's ordinary negligence mens rea violated due process because the standard was impermissibly vague and legally insufficient. Defendants also made two preemption arguments. Both defendants were convicted. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that the Right of Way Law does not violate due process and is not preempted by state law. View "People v. Torres" on Justia Law

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The Court of Appeals affirmed the order of the appellate division reversing the orders of Supreme Court denying Defendants' motions to dismiss the complaint against them pursuant to N.Y. C.P.L.R. 3211(a)(8) on the ground that New York courts lacked personal jurisdiction, holding that that New York courts lacked personal jurisdiction over Defendants.At issue was whether a foreign corporation consents to the exercise of general jurisdiction by New York courts by registering to do business in the state and designating a local agent for service of process. Plaintiffs were the estates of three passengers who died in and the surviving passengers of an accident caused by a New York resident, who was operating a Ford Explorer on an interstate highway in Virginia and the vehicle's Goodyear tire allegedly failed. Ford and Goodyear moved to dismiss the complaint against them under section 3211(a)(8). Supreme Court denied the motions. The appellate division reversed, concluding that a corporation's compliance with the existing business registration statutes does not by itself constitute consent to the general jurisdiction of New York courts. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that Defendants' motions to dismiss were properly granted. View "Aybar v. Aybar" on Justia Law

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The Court of Appeals reversed the order of the Appellate Division and remanded with directions to grant Defendant's motion to dismiss the indictment against him insofar as it sought to dismiss the count in the indictment charging manslaughter in the second degree, holding that this count required dismissal.Defendant was indicted on charges of manslaughter in the second degree, criminal sale of a controlled substance in the third degree, criminal possession of a controlled substance in the seventh degree, and criminal possession of a hypodermic instrument. Defendant filed a motion to dismiss the indictment on grounds that the evidence presented to the jury was legally insufficient. County Court granted the motion in part and dismissed the charge of manslaughter in the second degree. The Appellate Division reversed and denied Defendant's motion in its entirety. The Court of Appeals reversed, holding that the evidence presented to the grand jury was legally insufficient to establish the requisite mens rea for second-degree manslaughter or the lesser included offense of criminally negligent homicide. View "People v. Gaworecki" on Justia Law

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The Court of Appeals affirmed the order of the Appellate Division affirming the judgment of the suppression court denying Defendant's motion to suppress certain eavesdropping evidence, holding that eavesdropping warrants are executed in the geographical jurisdiction where the communications are intentionally intercepted by authorized law enforcement officers within the meaning of N.Y. Crim. Proc. Law 700.At issue was whether a Kings County Supreme Court justice had jurisdiction to issue eavesdropping warrants for Defendant's cell phones for the purpose of gathering evidence in an investigation of enterprise corruption and gambling offenses in Kings County. The cell phones were not physically present in New York. The suppression court denied Defendant's motion to suppress, concluding that since the crimes were allegedly committed in Kings County, the county had jurisdiction to prosecute the crimes and there was a sufficient nexus of the issuance of the eavesdropping warrants in that county. The Appellate Division affirmed. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that the Kings County Supreme Court Justice presiding in the jurisdiction where Defendant's communications were overheard and accessed and therefore intercepted by authorized law enforcement agents had the authority to issue the warrants. View "People v. Schneider" on Justia Law

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The Court of Appeals affirmed the decision of the Appellate Division affirming Supreme Court's judgment ordering the suppression of physical evidence seized from two vehicles, holding that the search warrant materials failed to provide probable cause to search the vehicles.The court issued a search warrant authorizing a search of Defendant's "person" and the "entire premises." Defendant filed a motion to suppress, arguing that the factual allegations did not support a search of the vehicles located outside the residence. Supreme Court granted the motion to suppress, and the Appellate Division affirmed. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that because the search warrant contained no references to the vehicles to be searched, the record supported the finding that there was no probable cause to search the vehicles. View "People v. Gordon" on Justia Law

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The Court of Appeals affirmed the dismissal of Plaintiff's claims that sought to hold Michael Bloomberg vicariously liable for Nicholas Ferris's offending conduct, holding that Bloomberg was not an "employer" within the meaning of the New York City Human Rights Law (City HRL).Plaintiff brought this action against her employer Bloomberg L.P., her supervisor Ferris, and Michael Bloomberg, bringing several claims arising from her alleged discrimination, sexual harassment, and sexual abuse. At issue was whether Bloomberg, in addition to Bloomberg L.P., could be held vicariously liable based on his status as owner and officer of the company. Supreme Court denied Bloomberg's motion to dismiss. The Appellate Division reversed and dismissed the causes of action against Bloomberg. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that Plaintiff failed to allege that Bloomberg was her employer for purposes of liability under the City HRL. View "Doe v. Bloomberg, L.P." on Justia Law