Court of Appeals Practice

CAL has been a frequent presence in the New York Court of Appeals since our doors opened. 

Our client’s wins in New York’s highest court span the spectrum of criminal law and procedure, from jury selection to the court’s closing instructions, from grand jury proceedings to sentencing. While we litigate for individual clients, those decisions often have statewide and long-lasting impact. Some of our most significant client wins are described below. Recognizing our unique position, CAL’s distributes a statewide quarterly Court of Appeals Newsletter, and comments regularly on Court of Appeals decisions in criminal cases in its Eye on Eagle Feature.

Significant Cases

  • People v. Williams, 35 N.Y.2d 24  (2020) (The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner's Low-Copy Number DNA testing and its use of the Forensic Statistical Tool are subject to Frye hearings)
  • People v. Williams, 35 N.Y.2d 24  (2020) (The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner's Low-Copy Number DNA testing and its use of the Forensic Statistical Tool are subject to Frye hearings)
  • People v. Williams, 35 N.Y.2d 24  (2020) (The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner's Low-Copy Number DNA testing and its use of the Forensic Statistical Tool are subject to Frye hearings)
  • People v. Suazo, 32 N.Y.3d 491 (2018) (non-citizen defendant who demonstrates that a charged crime carries the risk of deportation is entitled to a jury trial). 
  • People v. Wiggins, 31 NY3d 1 (2018) (the Court of Appeals dismissed the indictment, holding that, defendant’s constitutional right to a speedy trial was violated by his six-year incarceration at Rikers).
  • People v. Smith, 2016 WL 3494644 (June 28, 2016) (law enforcement witnesses are subject to cross-examination about bad conduct, including specific allegations in civil lawsuits, subject to a showing of good faith basis and relevance). 
  • People v. Berry, 2016 WL 324480 (June 14, 2016) (legally sufficient evidence of unlawful dealing with a child requires the prosecution to establish that defendant has a relationship either to the child or to the place, premises, or establishment, such that he or she could control whether the child entered or remained there; prosecution failed to prove that overnight guest had such relationship here)
  • People v. Bilal27 N.Y. 3d 961 (2016) (defense counsel’s failure, for no strategic reason, to move to suppress the gun defendant was charged with possessing was ineffective; matter remanded for suppression hearing)
  • People v. Johnson, 27 N.Y.3d 60 (2016) (on People’s appeal, court finds whether trial court misapplied Bruton is a question of law, but that admission of co-defendant’s statement was error as it facially incriminated defendant by attempting to deflect guilt and assert his own innocence)
  • People v. Pacquette, 25 N.Y.3d 575 (2015) (CPL § 710.30 notice is required for identifying police witness who did not engage in the hand-to-hand purchase and surveyed the transaction from across the street)
  • People v. Garcia, 25 N.Y.3d 77 (2015) (analysis of “background” exception to Crawford; Court finds out-of-court statement exceeded background and that even if background, court gave no limiting instruction)
  • People v. Gonzalez, 25 N.Y.3d 1100 (2015) (shouting obscenities at police in subway station did not provide probable cause for disorderly conduct arrest)
  • People v. Jurgins, 26 N.Y.3d 607 (2015) (CPL § 440.20 is the proper vehicle for challenging an out-of-state predicate, though challenges on direct appeal must be preserved; challenge is not waived through silence)
  • People v. Carr, 25 N.Y.3d 105 (2015) (in camera hearing without defense counsel present violated defendant’s Sixth Amendment right to counsel)
  • People v. Soto, 26 N.Y.3d 455 (2015) (on People’s appeal, witness’s declaration against penal interest should have been admitted where witness’s asking whether she could “get into trouble” showed awareness that statement was against her penal interest when made; exception is not limited to serious penal consequences)
  • People v. Lewis, 23 N.Y.3d 179 (2014) (attachment of GPS device to defendant’s car was “unquestionably a search within the meaning of the Fourth Amendment” that requires a warrant)
  • People v. Shabazz, 22 N.Y.3d 896 (2013) (admissibility of declaration against penal interest must focus on reliability at time statement is made, not later recantation that goes to weight)
  • People v. Nesbitt, 20 N.Y.3d 1080 (2013) (ineffective for counsel to fail to offer any defense to a concurrent count in the mistaken belief that none)
  • People v. Rodriguez, 19 N.Y.3d 166 (2012) (agreeing that suppression is generally the remedy for violations of CPL § 700.50(3) [notice of eavesdropping warrant), but prejudice must be shown)
  • People v. Sosa, 18 N.Y.3d 436 (2012) (DLRA “lookback” period for exclusion offense dates from date of the resentencing application, not commission of offense)
  • People v. Wright, 19 N.Y.3d 359 (2012) (consecutive sentences could not be imposed for CPW2 (intent to use unlawfully) and murder 1 (one count, two victims), where the possessory offense was only completed upon the defendant’s shooting of the victims)
  • People v. Riley, 19 N.Y.3d 944 (2012) (Appellate Division reversal of unpreserved issue cannot be reviewed on a People’s appeal in the Court of Appeals)
  • People v. Gilliam, 19 N.Y.3d 842 (2012) (Appellate Division must indicate whether affirmance is based on appeal waiver or merits of sentencing claim).  
  • People v. Dais, 19 N.Y.3d 335 (2012) (the issue of whether defendant’s prior conviction is a violent or nonviolent felony may be litigated by either side at a DLRA resentencing, but a DLRA resentencing is not a plenary resentencing at which defendant can relitigate his predicate adjudication).
  • People v. Yusuf, 19 N.Y.3d 314 (2012) (improper to consult foreign indictment in assessing whether out-of-state predicate is equivalent to a New York violent felony where aggravating circumstance — defendant’s intent — is not relevant to defendant’s guilt or innocence; LaFontaine reviewability bar applies to predicate challenges).
  • People v. Credle, 17 N.Y.3d 556 (2011) (Grand Jury vote of “no affirmative action” requires prosecution to seek court authorization to represent). 
  • People v. Paulin, 17 N.Y.3d 238 (2011) (parole violators are eligible for resentencing under the 2009 Drug Law Reform Act).
  • People v. Santiago,  17 N.Y.3d 246 (2011) (individuals who apply for drug law resentencing while in state custody remain eligible for resentencing even if later released to parole).  
  • People v. Williams, 14 N.Y.3d 198 (2010) (Double Jeopardy bars the imposition of post-release supervision after completion of sentence).
  • People v. Sparber, 10 N.Y.3d 457 (2008) (sentencing court must pronounce the term of post-release supervision in imposing sentence).
  • People v. Hall, 10 N.Y.3d 303 (2008) (requiring police to obtain a search warrant before conducting a body cavity search for evidence at the precinct). 
  • People v. Pasley, 9 N.Y.3d 342 (2007) (court conducting weight of the evidence review must consider the elements of the crime even if the defendant failed to preserve a challenge to legal sufficiency).  
  • People v. LeGrand, 8 N.Y.3d 449 (2007) (abuse of discretion for a court to exclude relevant expert testimony on the reliability of eyewitness identifications where little or no corrborating evidence connects the defendant to the crime).
  • People v. Boyer, 6 N.Y.3d 427 (2006) (refusing to extend the "confirmatory identification" exception to CPL §710.30's notice requirement where the officer's initial viewing was fleeting and unreliable).  
  • People v. Lopez, 6 N.Y.3d 248 (2006) (valid waiver of right to appeal must be supported by record evidence establishing the defendant's understanding that the right to appeal is separate and distinct from those rights automatically forfieted by a guilty plea).  
  • People v. Suarez, 6 N.Y.3d 202 (2005) (clarifying standard for depraved indifference murder).
  • People v. Williams, 5 N.Y.3d 7323 (2005) (in buy and bust case, upholding the defendant's right to a jury charge that the jury can consider evidence or lack of evidence).
  • People v. Nazario, 4 N.Y.3d 70 (2005) (violation of defendant's public trial right where the court closed the courtroom to the defendant's drug counselor despite the absence of any showing that the counselor's presence would jeopardize the undercovers' safety).  
  • People v. Edwards, 95 N.Y.2d 480 (2000) (error for court to refuse to allow defense counsel to cross-examine the investigating police officer about the confidential informant's identity, and then to rely on information provided by the confidential informant without examining him in camera).
  • People v. Johnson, 94 N.Y.2d 600 (2000) (error to deny a defense challenge for cause where a prospective juror expresses doubt as to impartiality and fails to provide unequivocal assurances of an ability to set aside any predisposition and decide the case fairly).