CAL in the Courts

The postings below present recent victories for CAL clients in the courtroom.

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AD1 reduces client's excessive sentence

AD1 reduced MH’s sentence for second-degree robbery from 10 to eight years’ incarceration, agreeing with CAL’s argument that the sentence was excessive. Shaina Watrous represented MH on appeal.

AD1 reduces CAL client's persistent violent felony offender sentence to the minimum

Accepting CAL's arguments that only the minimum sentence was warranted for HK's participation in a second-degree robbery, AD1 reduced his sentence from 20 years' to life to 16. Abigail Everett represented HK.

CAL gains immediate release for Domestic Violence Survivor

On Feb. 23, 2023, RS was resentenced under the Domestic Violence Survivors Justice Act to a term of 5 years’ incarceration plus 5 years’ post-release supervision, making him eligible for immediate release after serving nearly 11 years of an original 20-year sentence. The District Attorney’s office, after extensive review, determined that such a sentence would be fair, given the substantial trauma Mr. S had experienced from family members and intimate partners, and the court then imposed the DVSJA-range sentence. RS was represented by CAL attorney Kate Skolnick and a team at Brooklyn Law School’s Criminal Defense and Advocacy Clinic helmed by Elizabeth Isaacs.

CAL obtains reversal of robbery conviction and suppression of unlawfully obtained statement

KW was arrested after a co-defendant allegedly implicated him in a robbery. AD1 agreed with CAL that, although the officers who arrested defendant were not required to testify, the People’s initial evidentiary presentation, consisting of the testimony of the investigating detective, was insufficient to permit the inference that information constituting probable cause was transmitted by the detective to the officers effectuating the arrest of defendant. Without such evidence, the People did not meet their People’s prima facie burden of establishing the legality of the challenged police conduct and shift the burden of persuasion to defendant. CAL attorney Marika Meis represented KW, who’d been sentenced to 16 years to life imprisonment on this robbery conviction.

CAL's efforts nearly halve client's decades-long sentence

Following a remand for a second resentencing, AD1 nearly halved RH’s 38-year-to-life sentence directing that previously imposed consecutive sentences should all be run concurrently, resulting in a 17-year sentence reduction. CAL attorney Liz Vasily represented RH on appeal.

AD1 agrees with CAL that Correction Law § 168-f(3) is unconstitutional

AD1 strikes down Correction Law § 168-f(3) as unconstitutional, agreeing with CAL that the provision’s change of address registration requirements are unconstitutionally vague in their application to an unhoused offender, because it is impossible to comply with the requirement offenders notify the Board of any address changes. CAL attorney Matt Christiana represented CAL client CA in this appeal.

CAL win frees client from SORA registration

In People v. RC, the Appellate Division, First Department, agreed with CAL that client RC could not be required to register as a sex offender because his convictions for third-degree burglary and attempted second-degree burglary as sexually motivated felonies were not registerable offenses under SORA. The Court reached this issue in the interest of justice. Bryan Furst represented RC on appeal.

AD1 substantially reduces sentence, originally 13-26 years, to 3-6 years

BJ was convicted of 10 counts of criminal possession of a forged instrument and one count of tampering with physical evidence. He was sentenced to an aggregate term of 13-26 years. Considering the nature of the offenses and the Manhattan District Attorney’s consent to a reduction, the Appellate Division reduced BJ’s sentence to a concurrent minimum term, making BJ eligible for immediate release. Carola Beeney and Allison Kahl represented BJ on appeal.

New York Supreme Court vacates CAL client's convictions, including controlled-substance sale and possession offenses, and dismisses the indictment for Brady violations

Prior to RH’s trial, the New York City Office of the Special Narcotics Prosecutor (SNP) failed to disclose more than 15 civil lawsuits filed against the officers involved in RH’s arrest, and 15 substantiated findings of misconduct. CAL filed a C.P.L. § 440.10 motion, arguing that SNP’s failure to disclose these impeachment materials violated the prosecution’s constitutional obligations under Brady v. Maryland, 373 U.S. 83 (1963). SNP eventually conceded that it was aware of 11 of the civil lawsuits, but failed to provide this information to the defense. Accordingly, SNP withdrew its opposition to RH’s C.P.L. § 440.10(1)(h) motion and recommended that the court dismiss the indictment. On December 6, 2022, Justice Ruth Pickholz vacated RH’s convictions and dismissed the indictment. Beth Caldwell represented RH on appeal.

AD1 reverses attempted murder conviction for court's unlawful decision to exclude CAL client from discussions about justification defense

CAL client JG was tried and convicted of attempted murder and assault following a stabbing. JG asserted that the stabbing was justified. JG testified that, as a teenager, he suffered an incident that “changed the course of [his] life” in which his “heart started racing.” When the prosecutor objected, the court discussed the appropriateness of the testimony with the parties at a sidebar conference from which JG was excluded. At the conference, the prosecutor claimed the testimony was elicited solely to elicit sympathy for JG. Defense counsel argued that it was relevant to defendant’s physical capabilities and perception of danger, and therefore spoke to his justification defense. AD1 found that it was improper to exclude JG from discussions about the justification defense because the subject discussed “implicated defendant’s peculiar factual knowledge such that his participation might have assisted him in advancing his justification defense to the murder and assault counts.” Alison Haupt represented JG on appeal.