New York Appellate Lawyer

48 Wall Street, 5th Floor, New York, NY 10005

Federal Criminal Appeals Throughout The United States and
New York State Criminal Appeals.

Located at 48 Wall Street, 5th Floor, New York, NY! 1-800-APPEALS (277-3257)

Failure To Seek Judicial Permission To Re-present Case To Grand Jury Not Fatal To People’s Case


Failure To Seek Judicial Permission To Re-present Case To Grand Jury Not Fatal To People’s Case

People v. Allen

2018 N.Y. Slip Op. 08537

New York Court of Appeals

Decided: December 13, 2018

New York Homicide Convictions

New York Felony Convictions

ISSUE:

Whether the People’s failure to seek permission to resubmit a murder charge to a grand jury after the first grand jury deadlocked on that charge violates CPL § 190.75 (3) and whether that failure to seek judicial permission was prejudicial to the defendant at trial where he faced both murder and manslaughter charges.

HOLDING:

The Court held that there was no reasonable possibility that the presence of the murder count during trial influenced the jury’s decision to convict the defendant on the manslaughter count in any meaningful way and therefore, he is not entitled to a new trial.

FACTS OF THE CASE:

In 2008, defendant Doran Allen acted as the getaway driver during a shooting that resulted in the death of one of the victims and was indicted with two codefendants shortly afterward. In the first indictment, Allen was charged with manslaughter in the first degree and two counts of attempted murder in the second degree amongst other crimes. This first grand jury deadlocked, however, on a charge of murder in the second degree as against Allen. There was no dispute on appeal to the validity of the charges in this first indictment, including the attempted murder counts.

The People took no official action with respect to the first grand jury’s deadlock on the murder count against the defendant. In 2011, the People filed a second indictment containing several charges including a count of murder in the second degree against Allen. While the People obtained permission to resubmit the matter to a new grand jury, they acknowledged that they failed to obtain such permission with respect to the defendant as required by CPL § 190.75.

The Supreme Court denied the defendant’s motion to dismiss the murder count contained in the second indictment as obtained in violation of CPL § 190.75 (3) because, while the People bypassed the requirement to get permission to resubmit the murder count to a new grand jury, the error was not fatal and did not require a dismissal of the murder count.

COURT’S ANALYSIS:

The Court held that the defendant is not entitled to a new trial on the manslaughter count because there was no reasonable possibility that the presence of the murder count during trial influenced the jury’s decision to convict the defendant on the manslaughter count in any meaningful way. The People’s failure to comply with CPL 190.75 does not require dismissal of a count in the indictment obtained after the statuary violation. The Court determined that this argument was incompatible with their decisions in People v. Wilkins, (68 NY2d 269 [1986]) and People v. Credle, (17 NY3d 556 [2011]), which warrant the dismissal of the murder count procured after the People failed to follow CPL § 190.75 (3).

General Rule

In Wilkins, the Court held that a prosecutor’s withdrawal of a case from a grand jury after presenting the evidence is equivalent to a dismissal and thus, the prosecutor must seek court permission, pursuant to CPL § 190.75 (3), to submit the case to a new grand jury. In Credle, the Court held that the prosecutor cannot resubmit the case to a different grand jury without first obtaining the court’s permission, mandated by CPL 190.75 (3), in the event that a grand jury deadlocks on a case submitted to it after presenting the evidence and considering the charges.  In Wilkins and Credle all counts of the indictment were obtained in violation of CPL 190.75 and therefore the indictments in those cases were properly dismissed.

However, in this case, the question is whether, although the defendant was acquitted of murder, the improper presence of the murder count during trial somehow prejudiced the defendant and requires that he receive a new trial on the manslaughter count.

Spillover Analysis

Spillover analysis is highly case-specific because if requires the Court to evaluate the individual facts of the case, the nature of the error and its potential for prejudicial impact on the over-all outcome. If there is a reasonable possibility that the jury’s decision to convict a defendant on tainted counts influenced its guilty verdict in a major way, reversal is required. In this case, the jury acquitted the defendant of the tainted count of murder in the second degree.

The defendant is not entitled to a new trial on the remaining counts that were not impacted by the violation and as such, the Court concludes that the defendant is not entitled to a new trial on the manslaughter count. All of the evidence used to prove murder in the second degree, which was acquitted, was used to prove manslaughter in the first degree. However, the presence of the tainted murder count here did not result in the admission of any prejudicial evidence that the jury would have been unable to consider if the murder count had been dismissed.