People v. Steven Meyers
Issue before the Court: Whether either the State Constitution, or CPL 195.20, requires a waiver of indictment, in addition to being signed by the defendant in open court in the presence of counsel, to be the subject of a judicial on-the-record inquiry of the defendant (as set forth in the model colloquy in the CJI).
Held: No. While the judge having an oral colloquy with the defendant per the CJI model colloquy is the “better practice,” it is not absolutely required. Indeed, under the State Constitution and the CPL, the judge does not even have to approve the waiver, nor would she have the power to disapprove one that meets the statutory requirements. There was a two judge dissent, written by Judge Rivera and joined by Judge Feinman.
CAL Observes: Judge Rivera expresses disappointment that the majority is not using the classic “knowing and voluntary” test for the waiver of important rights, which test always requires a judicial on-the-record inquiry But Judge Wilson, writing for the majority, says that the waiver of the grand jury indictment has “unique” requirements, so the classic “knowing and voluntary” test is not apt. Judge Feinman joining the dissent is interesting. Hmmm...