Case Summaries – Fourth Department Decisions Released on July 1, 2016

Published on July 5, 2016 12:31 pm by Piotr Banasiak in Appeals Blog

Criminal Case Summaries:

  • People v Lawrence (KA 14-00658) – D appealed from a conviction for second-degree criminal possession of a weapon. 4AD rejects D’s argument that the lower court erred in admitting testimony that a witness had seen D possess the subject gun two years earlier. Defense counsel opened the door to such testimony by arguing during his opening statement that the gun belonged to D’s wife and that D had no knowledge of it. The evidence that D had previously taken the gun out of a safe and shown it to the witness was relevant to D’s knowing possession of the gun. 4AD also notes that any prejudicial effect was minimized by the lower court’s limiting instructions to the jury.
  • People v Roth (KA 15-01259) – In this appeal by the People, 4AD reverses the lower court’s order, which dismissed the first three counts in the indictment: second-degree manslaughter, criminally negligent homicide, and tampering with physical evidence. The charges arose from the drug-overdose death of a 15 year old at D’s residence. 4AD finds that the manslaughter and negligent homicide counts were supported by evidence that D provided a large quantity of drugs to the victim, refused to permit other children who were present to call for medical assistance, and refused to let those children answer telephone calls from the victim’s mother because the victim was not supposed to be at D’s house. With respect to the tampering charge, 4AD explains that the lower court failed to view the evidence in the light most favorable to the People and improperly weighed the evidence.

Family Law Case Summaries:

  • Matter of Amrane v Belkhir (CAF 15-01246) – In this custody/visitation matter, 4AD modifies the lower court’s order, which, among other things, denied the father’s modification petition. 4AD finds that the lower court erred in concluding that the father failed to establish a change in circumstances sufficient to warrant an inquiry into whether the prior custody order should be modified. The record showed that the mother interfered with the father’s visitation with the children. The mother, among other things, instructed the children to be uncooperative with the father, and to refuse to recognize him as their father. The mother also refused to provide the children for scheduled visits and denigrated the father in front of the children. 4AD further concludes that the circumstances warrant awarding custody of the two youngest children to the father. 4AD notes that custody of two other children was awarded to the father in a proceeding subsequent to the instant order, and a fifth child will be turning 18 in a matter of weeks.