Hogan v. Supreme Court of New York, Bronx Cnty.

Decision Date17 January 1946
Citation65 N.E.2d 181,295 N.Y. 92
PartiesHOGAN, District Attorney, v. SUPREME COURT OF NEW YORK, BRONX COUNTY et al.
CourtNew York Court of Appeals Court of Appeals

OPINION TEXT STARTS HERE

Appeal from Supreme Court, Appellate Division, First Department.

Proceeding by Frank S. Hogan, as District Attorney of New York County, against the Supreme Court of the State of New York, Bronx County, and others, for an order under the Civil Practice Act, s 1283 et seq., in the nature of prohibition, restraining the Supreme Court and Morris Eder, individually and as Justice of said court, from continuing to assume jurisdiction in either of two habeas corpus proceedings brought by Frank J. Walsh for purpose of obtaining release of Max Katz and Louis Wexler from imprisonment in the New York City Penitentiary pursuant to judgments of conviction rendered by the Court of Special Sessions of the City of New York, on pleas of guilty to the crime of knowingly possessing policy writings. From an order of the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court, 269 App.Div. 927, 57 N.Y.S.2d 840, which granted the application, the defendants appeal.

Affirmed.

Frank J. Walsh, of New York City, for appellants.

Frank S. Hogan, Dist. Atty., of New York City (Whitman Knapp and David DuVivier, both of New York City, and Sylvia Jaffin Singer, of counsel), for respondent.

DESMOND, Judge.

The appeal is from an Appellate Division order of prohibition, which restrains the Supreme Court from continuing to assume jurisdiction in habeas corpus proceedings brought by appellants Katz and Wexler. Katz and Wexler, imprisoned in the New York City penitentiary, sued out their habeas corpus writs on petitions which alleged that the sentences they are serving, imposed by the New York City Court of Special Sessions, were illegal, because, according to petitioners, they had been defrauded into pleading guilty. When those habeas corpus proceedings came on to be heard at Special Term of Supreme Court, the District Attorney moved to dismiss them. Citing Matter of Lyons v. Goldstein, 290 N.Y. 19, 47 N.E.2d 425, 146 A.L.R. 1422, and Matter of Morhous v. New York Supreme Court, 293 N.Y. 131, 56 N.E.2d 79, he made the point that redress for wrongs such as those complained of by Katz and Wexler could not be had through collateral attack on the judgments of conviction in habeas corpus. The remedy, he urged, was by a motion to vacate, that is, by a ‘coram nobis' type application, addressed to the sentencing court itself, i.e., to Special Sessions. The motion to dismiss was denied at Special Term, that court holding that the rule announced in Matter of Lyons v. Goldstein and Matter of Morhous v. New York Supreme Court, supra, was not applicable to attacks on judgments of conviction rendered by ‘inferior courts of criminal jurisdiction’ like Special Sessions (see N.Y.Const. art. VI, s 18, and N. Y. City Crim.Courts Act, s 2). Such courts, held Special Term, have no continuing jurisdiction after judgment and are not courts of record and so, the Special Term holding was, they, unlike criminal courts of record and of continuing jurisdiction, have no inherent or incidental power to revise and correct their judgments after the trial is over and judgment has been declared.

After the District Attorney's motion to dismiss the habeas corpus proceedings had been denied, he petitioned the Appellate Division for, and was granted, the order of prohibition here appealed from. We thus have the question of whether the New York City Court of Special Sessions has power, in an appropriate situation, to entertain and act upon a motion to it for a vacatur of one of its judgments on the ground that the judgment is void for fraud or similar reason. Such a court is not a court of record. Judiciary Law, Consol. Laws, c. 30, s 2, People ex rel. McGrath v. Board of Supervisors, 119 N.Y. 126, 130,23 N.E. 489, 490. It is true also, according to historic theory, that it is not a court of continuing jurisdiction.’ See People v. Powell, 14 Abb.Pr. 91, 93;Matter of Anspach v. Rider, 249 App.Div. 916, 292 N.Y.S. 557. To some extent that historic concept is still true in fact as to the New York City Court of Special Sessions, since each part of such court consists of three justices whose assignments move them from group to group. See N.Y.City Crim.Courts Act, s 14. But the New York City Special Sessions Court is, nonetheless, a court of original jurisdiction as to certain crimes (all misdemeanors except libel, N.Y.City Crim. Courts Act, s 31; see, also, Code Crim.Pro. s 11), with full and complete power to dispose of such criminal causes. Courts of special sessions act within a much narrower sphere than those which have the power to try graver causes of offenses, but within that restricted sphere have all the powers incidental to the proper discharge of duty.’ People ex rel. Dunnigan v. Webster, 14 Misc. 617, 619, 36 N.Y.S. 745, 747, affirmed 1 App.Div. 631,37 N.Y.S. 1148. One of the incidental powers which every competent court needs, and must have, to carry out effectually, its specific statutory powers, is the power to strike from its records judgments which are void for fraud, not merely erroneous in law. Furman v. Furman, 153 N.Y. 309, 314,47 N.E. 577, 578,60 Am.St.Rep. 629;Gumbel v. Pitkin, 124 U.S. 131, 144, 8 S.Ct. 379, 31 L.Ed. 374;Arkadelphia Co. v. St. Louis S. W. Ry. Co., 249 U.S. 134, 146, 39 S.Ct. 237, 63 L.Ed. 517. It is an old, old principle that a duly constituted court, even in the absence of express statutory warrant, has the right ‘to exercise so efficient a control over every proceeding in an action as to effectually protect every person actually interested in the result, from injustice and fraud, and that it will not allow itself to be made the instrument of wrong, no less on account of its detestation of every thing conducive to wrong than on account of that regard which it should entertain for its own character and dignity.’ Baldwin v....

To continue reading

Request your trial
36 cases
  • Campbell v. Thomas
    • United States
    • New York Supreme Court — Appellate Division
    • March 16, 2010
    ...to wrong than on account of that regard which it should entertain for its own character and dignity' " ( Matter of Hogan v. Supreme Ct. of State of N.Y., 295 N.Y. 92, 96, 65 N.E.2d 181, quoting Baldwin v. City of New York, 42 Barb 549, 550, affd 45 Barb 359; cf. Carr v. Hoy, 2 N.Y.2d at 187......
  • People ex rel. Harrison v. Jackson
    • United States
    • New York Court of Appeals Court of Appeals
    • October 14, 1948
    ...approach to it must be by the only visible route by motions addressed to the sentencing court.’ Matter of Hogan v. New York Supreme Court, Bronx County, 295 N.Y. 92, 97, 65 N.E.2d 181, 183. In this case, the ‘visible route’ takes its direction from the very difficulties which inhere in habe......
  • People v. Minott
    • United States
    • New York County Court
    • May 8, 1997
    ...88 L.Ed. 1250 (1944) ], applies to judgments rendered in criminal, as well as civil, matters [e.g., Hogan v. Supreme Court of New York, Bronx County, 295 N.Y. 92, 65 N.E.2d 181 (1946); Matter of Lyons v. Goldstein, 290 N.Y. 19, 25, 47 N.E.2d 425 (1943) ], and is not circumscribed by any sta......
  • Smith, In re
    • United States
    • New York City Court
    • May 19, 1970
    ...and unwarranted injury--that a court 'will not allow itself to be made the instrument of wrong'. See Matter of Hogan v. Supreme Court, 295 N.Y. 92, 96, 65 N.E.2d 181, 182. This Court's power to order a change in the Police Department's juvenile arrest records is implicit in the authority gr......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT