People v. Paul Aveni
AD2 order dated October 17, 2012, modifying judgment of conviction. Decision below: 100 AD3d 228, 953 NYS2d 55. Pigott, J., granted leave February 20, 2013.
ISSUES PRESENTED: (1) Whether the police tactics in extracting the defendant’s confession were so coercive as to render it involuntary. (2) The sufficiency of the evidence of various counts.
Issue before the Court: Whether the People’s appeal from the Appellate Division’s reversal of the denial of defendant’s motion to suppress statements, “upon the law and the facts,” should be dismissed upon the ground that the reversal was not “on the law alone or upon the law and such facts which, but for the determination of law, would not have led to...” the decision. C.P.L. 450.90(2)(a).
Held: The People’s appeal should be dismissed. The issue of whether the defendant’s confession was voluntary was a “mixed question of law and fact,” and the Appellate Division’s decision was based upon its factual review. Hence, no jurisdiction to hear the appeal.
CAL Observes: Recognizing the jurisdictional problem, the People, parsing the language of the Appellate Division’s decision in Talmudic fashion, argued that its decision was based upon an incorrect legal standard, since it did not focus on the “totality of the circumstances” surrounding the confession. Only a lone dissenter went for this Hail Mary pass, and he was on the sidelines when he caught it.