CAL in Action

New York Court of Appeals reverses CAL client David W's drug-sale conviction because he was improperly denied an independent source hearing.


David W. was arrested following a buy-and-bust operation. At the conclusion of a pretrial suppression hearing to assess whether there was probable cause to arrest, the court concluded there was no probable because the undercover’s testimony about the sale was unreliable. Because there was no probable cause, the court suppressed a confirmatory identification by an undercover. Defense counsel then moved for an independent source hearing to determine whether, despite the suppression of his confirmatory identification, the undercover officer would be allowed to identify defendant at trial. The court denied counsel’s request relying on testimony adduced at the suppression hearing. The Court of Appeals reversed. In an opinion by Judge Troutman, the court held that the probable-cause hearing evidence was insufficient for this purpose because it did not explore the undercover's pre-arrest observations, if any, of the seller's face, physical features, complexion, build, hairstyle, or height during the buy and bust operation. CAL attorney Carola Beeney represented David W on appeal.