The postings below present recent noteworthy CAL court appearances and case outcomes. Please use the Contact Us inquiry form if you'd like further information about any of these cases.
The Appellate Division, First Department granted CAL client AW a rare downward departure in his SORA level on appeal, from the recommended level 3 to a level 2. The court cited, among other reasons, our client's extraordinary demonstrated rehabiliation and educational accomplishments that he achieved while incarcerated, including multiple college degrees and many succesful rehabilitative programs. Our client was represented by Abigail Everett.
On March 15, 2017, the Appellate Division, First Department, reversed and dismissed CAL client H.F.’s harassment conviction. The court held that the complainant’s testimony that “defendant apparently mistook her for someone else, and ‘grazed’ her arm, from her mid-shoulder to her hand, after which she walked away, did not support an inference that defendant intended to harass, annoy, or alarm her.” Brittany Francis represented our client.
On March 15, 2017, the Appellate Division, First Department, reversed CAL client TT’s second-degree robbery conviction. The four-judge majority held that the court’s supplemental instructions on the interplay between accomplice liability and two different theories of robbery failed to cure the confusion that the jury expressed in repeatedly submitting notes requesting clarification on “shared state of mind.” Because of the faulty charge conflating the questions of whether each
had the intent to forcibly steal property, there could be no assurance that the jury did not find TT guilty of no more than simple assault and his co-defendant guilty of no more than petit larceny. It thus found the trial unfair and ordered a new one. Kate Skolnick and Sharmeen Mazumder represented TT.
On Feb. 10, 2017, the Appellate Term reversed and dismissed the marijuana possession conviction for CAL client JD. The court agreed with JD’s argument that the complaint did not establish the “public place” element of fifth-degree marijuana possession where all that was pleaded was that Mr. D was “across from” an address. Rather than remand for further proceedings on the remaining count, unlawful possession of marijuana, the court dismissed the entire accusatory instrument. Kate Skolnick represented JD.”
On February 7, 2017, the Appellate Division, First Department reversed EB’s first-degree assault conviction due to a jury charge error. EB, who was charged with both attempted murder and first-degree assault, asserted self-defense at trial. The jury acquitted EB of attempted murder and convicted him of assault; however, the lower court never told the jury that if it acquitted EB of the top count because he was justified, it must not consider the lesser count. The Appellate Division agreed that because the jury may have acquitted EB of attempted murder based on justification, the assault conviction must be reversed in the interest of justice. Rachel T. Goldberg represented our client.
On January 31, 2017, the Appellate Division, First Department, in a unanimous decision, reversed CAL client E.F.’s convictions and dismissed the indictment. The court held that “the evidence was legally insufficient to support an inference, beyond a reasonable doubt, that defendant shared the specific intent of the boyfriend to use the firearm unlawfully against another,” and that “there was no evidence that [E.F.] participated in the attack, for which she was not present, or that anyone ever communicated to her an intent to use the firearm.” The court noted that E.F. had been acquitted of all the charges alleging that she had acted in concert to harm the victim. Brittany Francis represented our client.
On January 26, 2017, the Appellate Division, First Department reversed the robbery conviction for CAL client J.W., who was serving a term of 12 years in prison. The New York County District Attorney conceded that JW’s trial attorney had not consented to a six-week pre-trial adjournment. The appellate court agreed that J.W.’s speedy trial rights, under CPL section 30.30, were violated and dismissed the indictment. Abigail Everett represented our client.
On January 24, 2017, the Appellate Division, First Department found that the lower court improperly imposed consecutive sentences on WL for the illegal possession and sale of firearms. The People conceded---and the Appellate Division agreed---that because there was no evidence that WL possessed the guns other than at the moment he sold them, consecutive sentences were illegal. Rather than remand WL’s case to the lower court for resentencing, the Appellate Division modified the sentences to run concurrently, effectively reducing WL’s sentence from 30 years’ imprisonment to 15 years. Our client was represented by Rachel T. Goldberg.
On December 21, 2016, Justice Ruth Pickholz, of the New York County Supreme Court, vacated the 1999 murder conviction of CAL client, DG, and a co-defendant. The judge’s decision rested on two separate grounds. Justice Pickholz held that the defendant had a right to know that a prosecution witness, who did not testify at trial, had perjured himself at the grand jury. Before trial, the New York County assistant district attorney had told the trial judge of the perjury but the judge, erroneously, granted the prosecution’s request to withhold the perjury from the defense. Justice Pickholz, however, refused CAL’s request to dismiss the murder charge – rejecting the argument that the perjury impaired the integrity of the grand jury. As a second basis for reversal, Justice Pickholz found trial defense counsel to be ineffective for failing to consult with and call a forensic medical expert to impeach the prosecution witnesses’ description of the shooting. Amanda Rolat and Abigail Everett represented our client.
On December 14, 2016, CAL client A.M. was granted resentencing because the Bronx County Supreme Court agreed that a federal weapon possession conviction, used to adjudicate him a second violent felony offender, was not strictly equivalent to its New York counterpart. He was resentenced as a first felony offender. Our client was represented by Molly Ryan.
On August 15th, CAL welcomed Marianne Yang as a supervising attorney and co-director of the recently renamed Immigrant Justice Project, formerly known as the Padilla Project. Marianne brings a wealth of knowledge at the intersection of immigration and criminal law from her experience at IDP and Brooklyn Defender Services. She looks forward to working with fellow project co-director Robin Nichinsky on expanding the breadth and depth of CAL's post-conviction advocacy for clients facing immigration consequences.
In July, CAL welcomed both John Santoro and Maya Hart as new Client Advocates. Maya graduated from Williams College in June and John graduated from Columbia University in May. They will be joining current Client Advocate Erika Parry in the north wing of the office, and they look forward to supporting CAL's appellate work as well as enchancing our mission of holistic advocacy and client services.
On June 11, 2015, CAL's social worker, Susannah Karlin, and CAL SORA specialist Jill Sanders, did a presentation at the bi-monthly meeting of the Bronx Re-entry Task Force. Their presentation dealt with sex offender registration and the challenges these persons face when re-entering their communities. After a 10 minute presentation, Susannah and Jill fielded nearly an hour of questions about the ins-and-outs of the sex offender registration process, how sex offender residency restrictions effect communities, and how to dispel the myths surrounding “stranger danger” and the rates of sexual recidivism. The presentation helped give members of the re-entry community important information about the topics discussed.
On November 14, 2014, in Washington D.C., the National Legal Aid & Defender Association (NLADA) honored Claudia Trupp as the winner of the Reginald Heber Smith Award. The “Reggie” celebrates outstanding achievements and dedicated services of an attorney for contributions made while employed by an organization providing indigent defense services or civil legal services. To receive the Reggie, an attorney must have “significantly advanced the cause of equal justice for individual clients or low-income communities.” The attorney also must be known to provide “extraordinary and successful” legal advocacy on behalf of clients who could not otherwise afford counsel.
On September 15, 2014, Mark Zeno, CAL's Assistant-Attorney-in-Charge, received the New York County Lawyers' Association 2014 Public Service Award. New York City Corporation Counsel Zachary Carter presented the award and delivered the keynote address.
On January 24, 2013, CAL Attorney-in-Charge Robert S. Dean received the New York State Bar Association's 2012 award for Outstanding Appellate Practitioner. The award was established in 2003, to recognize "outstanding advocacy, protection of due process and the public welfare, and the integrity of the judicial system."
CAL Senior Supervising Attorney Abigail Everett was chosen to receive New York County Lawyers' Association 2012 Public Service Award. United States Attorney for the Southern District, Preeta Bharara, presented the award at the September 12, 2012 ceremony.
See the shout-out to CAL in the first report issued by the National Registry of Exonerations in the United States 1989-2012, a joint project of the University of Michigan Law School and the Center on Wrongful Convictions at Northwestern University Law School. The report details the 873 individual exonerations in the United States from January 1989 through February 2012. CAL's Justice First Project provided statistics to Professor Sam Gross on its cases over the course of a number of years.