Case Summaries – Fourth Department Decisions Released on June 17, 2016

Published on June 21, 2016 9:29 pm by Piotr Banasiak in Appeals Blog

Criminal Case Summaries:

  • People v Elliott (KA 13-01689) – 4AD reverses D’s conviction, finding that the lower court should have granted his suppression motion. This case arose when two officers and a sergeant observed 5 or 6 men in a field in Rochester. A day earlier the two officers had found marijuana in the same field. The men dispersed as police approached them. The sergeant saw D grab near his waistband area, enter a car, and bend over, as though he were putting something under the seat. The sergeant approached the car with his gun drawn, ordered D to show his hands, and asked him what he had put under his seat. D said it was marijuana. Police recovered marijuana from under the seat and a gun from D’s person. 4AD finds that this evidence should have been suppressed because the sergeant did not have reasonable suspicion to justify what the prosecutor conceded was a level three forcible detention. 4AD notes that the sergeant was not informed as to the two officers’ recovery of marijuana the previous day, and D’s actions of grabbing his waistband and bending over in the car were insufficient to give rise to reasonable suspicion.
  • People v Ingram (KA 14-00981) – 4AD reverses D’s conviction for second-degree burglary because the trial court erred in denying D’s request to charge second-degree criminal trespass as a lesser included offense. There was a reasonable view of the evidence to support a finding that D did not intend to commit a crime when he entered the complainant’s apartment without permission, and thus that he committed criminal trespass, but not burglary.
  • People v Regatuso (KA 15-01365) – 4AD modifies D’s conviction by vacating monetary fines that were imposed for convictions of multiple drug possession and sale charges that stemmed from a single act. While those fines were illegal, 4AD further finds that it is permissible to impose aggregate fines for various counts stemming from separate acts, even though the terms of incarceration on those counts were ordered to run concurrently.
  • People v Stanley (KA 13-01457) – 4AD modifies D’s conviction by reducing his sentence as a matter of discretion in the interest of justice. D pled guilty to various sex crimes in exchange for a 10-year prison sentence. Thereafter, the lower court found that D violated the plea agreement by lying to the probation officer. The lower court then imposed an enhanced sentence of 22 years. 4AD reduces the sentence to 15 years, which was the term requested by the prosecutor after D violated the plea agreement.
  • People v Tisdale (KA 12-00819) – 4AD reverses D’s conviction, finding that the evidence police recovered from him should have been suppressed as the product of an illegal strip search. Police approached a car that was parked more than 12 inches from the curb on a city street, and saw two open beer bottles inside. They asked D to exit the car, and found some marijuana residue in his hand, and a small bag of marijuana in his pants pocket. D denied having any other drugs, but the officer proceeded to pull forward D’s pants and underwear, and looked past his genitals and thighs. The officer then directed D to lean over, and pulled D’s pants and underwear from the rear of D’s body, and observed a bag under D’s buttocks, which the officer retrieved. 4AD concludes that the officer conducted an unlawful strip search, because the search was not supported by a reasonable suspicion that D was concealing evidence under his clothes. 4AD explains that D cooperated with the officer, admitted to possessing marijuana, and there was no indication D had additional drugs under his clothes. D’s mere possession of marijuana did not give rise to the requisite reasonable suspicion.

Family Law Case Summaries:

  • Matter of Esposito v Magill (CAF 15-00264) – In this custody/visitation matter, 4AD finds, among other things, that the lower court did not err in summarily denying the mother’s petition, which sought modification of a stipulated custody order. 4AD explains that a hearing is not automatically required whenever a parent seeks modification of a prior order, and here, the mother failed to make a sufficient evidentiary showing of a change in circumstances to warrant a hearing.