People v. Bowman

Decision Date11 August 1986
Citation505 N.Y.S.2d 717,122 A.D.2d 849
PartiesThe PEOPLE, etc., Respondent, v. Shawn BOWMAN, Appellant.
CourtNew York Supreme Court — Appellate Division

Charles C. Keeney, Jr., White Plains, for appellant.

Carl A. Vergari, Dist. Atty., White Plains (John J. Sergi and Richard E. Weill, of counsel), for respondent.

Before MOLLEN, P.J., and THOMPSON, BROWN and RUBIN, JJ.

MEMORANDUM BY THE COURT.

Appeal by the defendant from a judgment of the County Court, Westchester County (Marasco, J.), rendered February 1, 1985, convicting him of robbery in the first degree, upon a jury verdict, and imposing sentence.

Judgment reversed, on the law, and new trial ordered.

We find that the trial court improperly permitted the arresting officers to testify on direct examination as to the complainant's identification of the defendant. It would appear that this testimony was not essential to any appropriate narrative of the events leading to the apprehension of the defendant, but, rather was elicited for the prime purpose of bolstering the complainant's identification testimony. Such testimony was in contravention of the rule articulated in People v. Trowbridge, 305 N.Y. 471, 113 N.E.2d 841. The defendant did not attempt to demonstrate that the testimony of the complainant was a recent fabrication and therefore did not open the door to testimony which would otherwise be inadmissible as hearsay (see, People v. Barnes, 93 A.D.2d 864, 865, 461 N.Y.S.2d 372). Moreover, the evidence of the defendant's guilt rested solely upon the identification by the complainant (see, People v. Felder, 108 A.D.2d 869, 485 N.Y.S.2d 576) and, under the circumstances of this case, the error cannot be disregarded as harmless (cf. People v. Johnson, 57 N.Y.2d 969, 457 N.Y.S.2d 230, 443 N.E.2d 478).

We note that all too frequently prosecutors are engaging in the questioning of police witnesses in order to improperly bolster identification testimony in violation of the Trowbridge rule (see, People v. Tugwell, 114 A.D.2d 869, 494 N.Y.S.2d 770; People v. Grubbs, 112 A.D.2d 104, 492 N.Y.S.2d 377; People v. Lee, 109 A.D.2d 1066, 487 N.Y.S.2d 411; People v. Williams, 109 A.D.2d 906, 487 N.Y.S.2d 96; People v. Felder, 108 A.D.2d 869, 485 N.Y.S.2d 576). While in some cases these errors have either not been preserved or have been found harmless, we would admonish prosecutors to avoid such conduct, and would alert the trial courts to be vigilant in preventing the introduction of such...

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2 cases
  • People v. Perez
    • United States
    • New York Supreme Court — Appellate Division
    • February 9, 1987
    ...819, 501 N.Y.S.2d 641, 492 N.E.2d 769; see also, People v. Johnson, 57 N.Y.2d 969, 457 N.Y.S.2d 230, 443 N.E.2d 478; People v. Bowman, 122 A.D.2d 849, 505 N.Y.S.2d 717; People v. Vasquez, 120 A.D.2d 757, 502 N.Y.S.2d 282). Where, as here, the conviction is based upon identification testimon......
  • People v. Jones
    • United States
    • New York Supreme Court — Appellate Division
    • April 10, 1990
    ...his apprehension. These statements merely served as a necessary narrative of events leading to defendant's arrest. (People v. Bowman, 122 A.D.2d 849, 850, 505 N.Y.S.2d 717). Even if deemed error, it would be harmless in view of the overwhelming evidence of guilt. (see People v. Johnson, 57 ......

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