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.
On April 25, 2017, the Appellate Division, First Department, ordered that CAL client C.F.’s sentence be reduced by 20 years. Originally sentenced to consecutive terms of 25-life and 20-life for separate robberies, C.F. asked the court to order the sentences to run concurrently in the interest of justice. The court agreed, reducing the sentence from an aggregate term of 45-life to one of 25-life. It also dismissed as an inclusory, concurrent count a third-degree robbery conviction. Our client was represented by Kate Skolnick.
On April 21st
, a Manhattan judge, at a SORA registration hearing, granted a downward departure to Level 1 for our client TA after the Board of Examiners of Sex Offenders had recommended a Level 2. The judge agreed that Mr. A did not intentionally target someone who was underage and that his risk of re-offense was low. Mr. A was represented by Molly Schindler.
On April 13, 2017, the Appellate Division, First Department held that our client FD did not have to register in New York State as a sex offender. Mr. D was convicted in Virginia of murdering his young half-sister and served 25 years in prison. The crime did not involve any sexual motivation or conduct. As a result of the conviction, he was registered on Virginia’s “Sex Offender and Crimes Against Minors Registry.” Upon his release from prison, he moved to New York City to live with his father. The SORA registration statute requires individuals who move to New York to register as sex offenders if they have a felony conviction that requires them to register as a sex offender in another state. As recognized by the appellate court, “[u]nder these particular circumstances, requiring defendant to register as a sex offender is not rationally related to the protection of the public from sex offenders, or to any other legitimate governmental purpose, and the application of [the SORA registration law] to defendant violates his rights to substantive due process.” Our client was represented by Abigail Everett and Natasha Chokani.
On April 10, 2017, the Appellate Term, First Department, reversed the conviction of CAL client DB and dismissed the accusatory instrument. DB had been accused of fifth-degree possession of stolen property and petit larceny for clocking out a co-worker from work on a single date. However, there was no allegation that he had clocked in
the co-worker. On that set of facts, there was no basis for finding reasonable cause to believe that he had committed an act aimed at depriving his employer of any wages. Kate Skolnick represented DB.
On March 29, 2017, the Appellate Term, First Department, reversed the conviction of CAL client DO and dismissed the accusatory instrument. DO had been accused of driving while intoxicated. However, a 43-month delay between DO’s arrest and his plea of guilty was found to be excessive, in violation of DO’s constitutional right of a speedy trial, on account of the simple nature of the charges and the lack of a good reason for the delay. Hunter Haney represented DO.
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 May 18, 2017, several current and former members of the CAL staff were featured as guest speakers at the Brooklyn Reentry Consortium, focusing on the specific challenges that persons convicted of sex offenses face upon release into the community. CAL's resident social worker Susannah Karlin and Senior Appellate Counsel Lauren Springer both had the opportunity to speak on their areas of expertise, as did former CAL staff attorney Jill Sanders. The consortium was cosponsored by CAL and organized in collaboration with the Kings County Reentry Task Force -- a joint venture between the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office, the NYS Department of Corrections & Community Supervision, and the NYS Division of Criminal Justice Services to provide support for certain adults transitioning from incarceration back into Brooklyn’s communities.
On March 1, 2017, CAL had the pleasure of hosting a fundraiser benefiting the Immigrant Defense Project. CAL's Robin Nichinsky and Mark Zeno were honored for their work representing immigrant clients seeking post-conviction relief in partnership with IDP. The event featured sales of artworks by the Brooklyn Waterfront Artist Collective, which are on rotational display in CAL's office space at 120 Wall Street. Many thanks to all who participated in making the evening such a success for IDP and the featured artists.
CAL is proud to announce that, on January 28, 2017, Attorney-in-Charge Robert S. Dean was named a Fellow of the New York Bar Foundation. Fellows are nominated by peers and recognized for distinguished achievement, dedication to the legal profession, and commitment to the organized bar and service to the public. As Emily F. Franchina, Chair of the Fellows, stated, "Being a Fellow of the New York Bar Foundation is an honor. Fellows represent one percent of the New York State Bar Association membership. Being nominated and elected is a notable achievement."
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.