People v. Carl

CourtNew York Supreme Court Appellate Division
Citation58 A.D.2d 948,397 N.Y.S.2d 193
PartiesThe PEOPLE of the State of New York, Respondent, v. Robert F. CARL, Appellant.
Decision Date28 July 1977

Page 193

397 N.Y.S.2d 193
58 A.D.2d 948
The PEOPLE of the State of New York, Respondent,
Robert F. CARL, Appellant.
Supreme Court, Appellate Division, Third Department.
July 28, 1977.

Page 194

Kent R. Woloson, Big Flats, for appellant.

D. Bruce Crew, III, Chemung County Dist. Atty., Elmira (Peter C. Buckley, Elmira, of counsel), for respondent.

Before SWEENEY, J. P., and KANE and HERLIHY, JJ.


Appeal from a judgment of the County Court of Chemung County, rendered July 30, 1976, convicting defendant upon his plea of guilty of the crime of burglary in the third degree and attempted burglary in the third degree.

The defendant was charged with criminal activity in a six-count indictment. At the request of his assigned counsel a hearing was held to determine whether he was an incapacitated person and, therefore, unfit to stand trial (see CPL 730.30). The trial court found the defendant was not incapacitated and after other pre-trial proceedings were held, accepted a plea of guilty to two charges in full satisfaction of the indictment.

The defendant upon this appeal questions the propriety of the proceedings regarding his competency and contends that the trial court erred in finding he was competent to stand trial.

An incapacitated person "means a defendant who as a result of mental disease or defect lacks capacity to understand the proceedings against him or to assist in his own defense." (CPL 730.10, subd. 1.) Three psychiatrists and a psychologist testified at the hearing, all of whom agreed that the defendant understood the proceedings. However, two of the psychiatrists, Drs. Kahn and Nagy, thought the defendant was under such paranoid schizophrenic delusions that he believed his lawyer, or any lawyer, was a party to the general plot against him. This mistrust of his lawyer, in the opinion of Drs. Kahn and Nagy, would prevent the defendant from assisting in his own defense. The third psychiatrist, Dr. Anderson,

Page 195

thought the defendant was not schizophrenic and could assist in his defense. Dr. Anderson specifically stated that the defendant had deliberately given false answers to simple questions in order to feign insanity and that the defendant in fact had the power of will to cooperate with a questioner, such as a lawyer, if he wished. Because of the conflicting psychiatric testimony, the court assigned Dr. Besserman, a psychologist specially trained in test-giving, to examine the defendant. The tests indicated that although the defendant might be emotionally disturbed, he was not psychotic and could assist in making a defense.

The People must prove capacity to stand trial by a mere preponderance of the evidence (People v. Santos, 43 A.D.2d 73, 349 N.Y.S.2d 439). The testimony of Dr. Anderson is extensive, convincing and not shaken on cross-examination. The hearing court had the opportunity in person to evaluate the expert witnesses and, most important, assess the defendant's manner and behavior. Without any objective proof of incapacity, such as prior clearly irrational actions by the defendant, we rely heavily on the perception of the hearing court and therefore affirm its determination of capacity (cf. People ex rel. Malone v. Johnston, 37 A.D.2d 585, 323 N.Y.S.2d 246).

The defendant also contends that the judgment must be vacated because the trial court erred in denying his motion for permission to proceed pro se (cf. People v. McIntyre, 36 N.Y.2d 10, 17, 364 N.Y.S.2d 837, 844, 324 N.E.2d 322, 327).

At a pre-trial proceeding held on June 9, 1976, involving the admissibility of statements previously made by the defendant, assigned counsel advised the court that the defendant wished to discharge the Public Defender as counsel. The defendant in response to a question by the court, stated as follows:

I wish to dismiss the Public Defender's Office as defense counsel, and have the Public Defender's Office assigned in an advisory capacity only simply for legal advice and nothing else.

The trial court in response to the defendant's request stated: "I am not going to allow you to dismiss the Public Defender as counsel in this case, but I will, from time to time, during the course of the proceedings allow you to make applications to this court in reference to this case, and this Indictment, so I have clarified that on the record."

After the foregoing discussion, the court in further proceedings on June 9, 1976, did in fact permit the defendant to personally move for a continuance of the Huntley hearing for the purpose of presenting particular evidence. The court denied the...

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  • State v. Heger, Cr. N
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of North Dakota
    • December 1, 1982
    ...538 F.2d 972 (3d Cir.1976). See also United States ex rel. Bornholdt v. Ternullo, 402 F.Supp. 374 (S.D.N.Y.1975); People v. Carl, 58 A.D.2d 948, 397 N.Y.S.2d 193 (N.Y.App.Div.1977), reversed on other grounds 46 N.Y.2d 806, 413 N.Y.S.2d 916, 386 N.E.2d 828 (1978); People v. Santos, 43 A.D.2d......
  • People v. Childress
    • United States
    • New York Supreme Court Appellate Division
    • November 4, 1991
    ...(People v. Orama, supra, 150 A.D.2d at 506, 541 N.Y.S.2d 102; People v. Breeden, supra; People v. Bolling, supra; People v. Carl, 58 A.D.2d 948, 397 N.Y.S.2d 193, revd. on other grounds 46 N.Y.2d 806, 413 N.Y.S.2d 916, 386 N.E.2d 828). The trial court did not err in denying the defense requ......
  • People v. Claron
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court (New York)
    • March 24, 1980
    ...219 N.Y.S.2d 722). The People must prove the defendant's capacity to stand trial by a mere preponderance of the evidence (People v. Carl, 58 A.D.2d 948, 397 N.Y.S.2d 193; People v. Sanchez, 86 Misc.2d 81, 382 N.Y.S.2d 449). The People have accomplished this. The defendant contends her state......
  • People v. Grisset
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court (New York)
    • March 21, 1983
    ...of fitness to proceed was determined, at least in part, upon the court's own observations of the defendant (see e.g. People v. Carl, 58 A.D.2d 948, 397 N.Y.S.2d 193; People v. Sanchez, supra; People v. Grieco, 82 Misc.2d 500, 368 N.Y.S.2d 992; People v. Veda, 73 Misc.2d 857, 342 N.Y.S.2d 69......
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