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No Notice Is Required For An Extreme Emotional Disturbance Defense When Defendant Relies On Prosecution’s Evidence


 notice is not required where a Defendant relies on the People’s evidence to support and EED charge appeals convictions

People v. Gonzalez

2014 NY Slip Op 00896

New York Court of Appeals

Decided on: February 13, 2014

CPL 250.10 Is Not Required When Defendant Relies Solely On Prosecution’s Evidence

Summary: Defendant killed his boss and dismembered his body. He was arrested and gave a videotaped confession and a written statement. He was charged with murder in the second degree, removal of a body, and discretion of the body of the human being. Before trial, Defendant’s attorney served on the people and filed with the District Court a notice of intent to proffer psychiatric evidence in connection with an EED defense. Defendant submitted to an examination by the People’s psychiatrist. Subsequent to the examinations but prior to trial, defense counsel informed the prosecutor that Defendant would not be presenting any psychiatric evidence. When the Prosecutor told defense that he would seek to introduce the video confession into evidence. Defense counsel represented that Defendant planned to assert a justification defense.

Prior to summations, defense counsel requested that the jury be instructed on EED defense. The trial court agreed that the evidence presented by the People, in particular the videotaped confession, established the elements of an EED defense and Defendant was therefor entitled to a jury instruction. The Prosecutor opposed the request stating that he was led to believe that Defendant’s CPL 250.10 notice had been withdrawn and that Defendant would rely on a justification defense rather than an EED defense. The jury later convicted Defendant of second-degree murder. Defendant argued on appeal that the trial court erred by failing to give the EED charge when the People’s evidence supported that charge, and by ruling that Defendant was only entitled to the charge if the People were permitted to present Goldsmith’s testimony.

The Appellate Division affirmed and agreed with the trial court that Defendant’s request for an EED charge was the equivalent of a notice of intent to proffer psychiatric evidence under CPL 250.10. The Court of Appeals held that Defendant was entitled to a jury charge on EED where the evidence, viewed in light most favorable to the Defendant, is sufficient for the jury to find by a preponderance of the evidence that the elements of the affirmative defense are satisfied. In this case, the issue was whether CPL.250.10 applied where Defendant presented no evidence of EED defense to the jury.

See Also: Trial Courts Must Consider Youthful Offender Status At Sentencing

Issue: Whether a CPL 250.10 is required where Defendant offers no evidence at trial but requests an EED jury charge based solely upon evidence by the People.

Holding: The Court of Appeals held that a notice is not required where a Defendant relies on the People’s evidence to support and EED charge. CPL 250.10 requires a Defendant to serve an advance notice of intent to rely upon the insanity defense. The notice is required where the Defendant intends to present psychiatric evidence, rather than simply rely upon an insanity defense. The Legislature did not specify what qualifies as mental health evidence offered by Defendant; however, to offer evidence as that legal phrase is traditionally understood, means to put fourth evidence and demand its admission.

Facts: Defendant killed his boss and dismembered his body. He was arrested and gave a videotaped confession and a written statement. He was charged with murder in the second degree, removal of a body, and discretion of the body of the human being. Before trial, Defendant’s attorney served on the people and filed with the District Court a notice of intent to proffer psychiatric evidence in connection with an EED defense. Defendant submitted to an examination by the People’s psychiatrist. Subsequent to the examinations but prior to trial, defense counsel informed the prosecutor that Defendant would not be presenting any psychiatric evidence. When the Prosecutor told defense that he would seek to introduce the video confession into evidence. Defense counsel represented that Defendant planned to assert a justification defense. Prior to summations, defense counsel requested that the jury be instructed on EED defense. The trial court agreed that the evidence presented by the People, in particular the videotaped confession, established the elements of an EED defense and Defendant was therefor entitled to a jury instruction. The Prosecutor opposed the request stating that he was led to believe that Defendant’s CPL 250.10 notice had been withdrawn and that Defendant would rely on a justification defense.

Legal Analysis: The Court of Appeals held that the affirmative defense of extreme emotional disturbance serves to reduce the degree of criminal culpability for acts that would otherwise constitute murder, People v. Diaz 15 NY3d 40. A Defendant is entitled to a jury charge on EED where the evidence, viewed in the light most favorable to the Defendant, is sufficient for the jury to find by a preponderance of the evidence that the elements of the affirmative defense are satisfied. Accordingly, the trial court must grant the Defendant’s request for an EED charge is the jury could reasonably conclude from the evidence that, at the time of the homicide, the Defendant was affected by an extreme emotional disturbance, and that the disturbance was supported by a reasonable explanation or excuse rooted in the situation as he perceived. This is true even if the Defendant did not testify or otherwise present evidence and the request for an extreme emotional disturbance charge is bases entirely on proof elicited during the People’s case.

In this case, Defendant relied on evidence admitted by the People during their direct case to support his request for an EED charge. Requesting an EED charge based on the People’s proof is not commensurate with “offering” evidence in connection with an EED defense for the purposes of triggering the notice requirement. A Defendant merely relying on the People’s proof simply does not come within the ambit of the statue. Defendant did not offer or present evidence in connection with his EED defense. Specifically, Defendant never put fourth and demanded the admission of any evidence related to EED. Rather, Defendant relied on evidence admitted by the People during their direct case to support his request for an EED charge.

Although the statue states that psychiatric evidence is inadmissible without the proper notice, The Court of Appeals construed the notice of provision more broadly, holding that Defendant will be barred from even rising an EED defense unless he or she provides notice. This rule protects the People from the prejudice caused by “surprise” mental health evidence. When a Defendant seeks an EED charge based on the People’s proof, however, the concern for “preventing unfair surprise” is reduced.

The video taped confession contained statements that could support an EED charge, whereas Defendant’s written statement did not. Deciding which evidence to include in the case in chief is often a matter of strategy. In this case, the People made the strategic decision to admit the videotape into evidence. Of course, Defense counsel employed a strategy as well by withdrawing the initial CPL 250.10 notice and waiting until the close of proof to request the EED charge based on the videotaped statements. This was not a surprise to the People because it was still based on the People’s own evidence, and therefore was not so inherently disadvantageous as to justify expanding the notice requirement.

Having determined that CPL 250.10 notice is not required where Defendant relies on the People’s evidence to support an EED charge, we now consider whether the trial court abused its discretion in issuing the EED charge. Because no notice was required, there was no statutory basis for allowing he people to use psychiatric examination against Defendant. Thus, the trial court abused its discretion by conditioning the EED charge on the People’s presentation of testimony when it should have simply submitted that charge to the jury.


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