People v. Correia

CourtNew York Villiage Court
Citation140 Misc.2d 813,531 N.Y.S.2d 998
Decision Date21 July 1988
PartiesThe PEOPLE of the State of New York, Plaintiff, v. Jamie J. CORREIA, Defendant.

Page 998

531 N.Y.S.2d 998
140 Misc.2d 813
The PEOPLE of the State of New York, Plaintiff,
v.
Jamie J. CORREIA, Defendant.
Village Justice Court
of Muttontown.
July 21, 1988.

Joseph R. Carrieri, Jericho, Village Prosecutor of Muttontown, for the people.

David A. Mansfield, Islandia, for defendant.

MARTIN I. KAMINSKY, Village Justice.

After trial of this traffic speeding case, novel questions are presented regarding the legal sufficiency of a police officer's independent estimate of the defendant's speed, since the officer's estimate was made following and as the result of an unreliable and possibly inaccurate radar clocking of the defendant's speed and while the officer was in a stationary position, observing the defendant drive past him.

Defendant Jamie J. Correia was ticketed on the morning of April 3, 1987 for alleged speeding on Route 25A in the Village of Muttontown. Defendant is alleged to have been driving at 81 mph in a 55 mph zone, in violation of § 1180(b) of the Vehicle & Traffic Law. Police Officer Peter Cusak, who issued the summons, first clocked the defendant on a Doppler radar unit in his police car, and then made an independent

Page 999

estimate of the defendant's speed. Officer Cusak was monitoring traffic while in a stationary position, off the roadway. He was alerted to the defendant's presence by the sound of the radar unit's read-out. Officer Cusak looked down to see the radar read-out. Then, Officer Cusak looked up, saw the defendant and made his own estimate of the defendant's speed, as the defendant crossed his field of vision.

Officer Cusak's testimony established that he has expertise in the use of Doppler radar equipment and extensive experience in making independent estimates of the speed of moving vehicles. He has had police academy and on-the-road training, and has been on road and traffic patrol for some years. Officer Cusak has regularly worked with and tested radar units, and has made hundreds or even thousands of independent estimates of speed. Checks of his independent estimates against radar units and his speedometer indicate that Officer Cusak's independent estimates are generally within about 3 miles of those read-outs.

Officer Cusak tested the radar unit he was using twice on the day in question. He did so both before and after he issued a summons to the defendant. Officer Cusak checked the unit's read-outs against two tuning forks and made internal calibration checks, noting the test results in a written log which his department maintains with respect to the unit. The test results from one of the tuning fork tests conducted after the summons was issued, at least as recorded by the police officer, showed speed read-outs outside the range permissible to verify the accuracy and reliability of the unit.

Defendant contends that (a) the radar unit in question was not properly or reliably tested, rendering the radar evidence non-probative, and (b) since Officer Cusak's independent estimate of the defendant's speed occurred after (indeed as a result of) the radar clocking and while the officer was in a stationary position, that estimate was necessarily tainted by the radar reading and is insufficient to sustain a conviction. In so arguing, defendant has presented a novel question: viz., is a police officer's independent estimate of speed insufficient, as a matter of law, to sustain a conviction where that estimate was made following the officer's observance of a faulty or unreliable radar clocking of the defendant's speed? A corollary novel question is whether the fact that the police officer's independent estimate was made while he was in a stationary position, rather than while pacing the defendant's vehicle, necessarily affects the result.

Neither counsel nor the Court have found a case directly in point on these issues. Based upon analogous authority (discussed below), the Court holds that a conviction can, but need not, result from a police officer's independent estimate in these circumstances, i.e. regardless of whether that occurred before or after a radar clocking and whether the officer made his estimate while in a stationary as opposed to a pacing mode. The sufficiency of such evidence must be determined on a case-by-case basis, in light of and considering the particular facts and circumstances presented. In other words, while the sequence of a faulty radar clocking and an officer's independent estimate of speed may affect the weight to be given to the independent estimate, it does not necessarily render the independent estimate insufficient as a matter of law. The same is true with respect to the police officer's position relative to the defendant.

Generally, the Court in a speeding case is presented with a combination of a radar or other mechanical (e.g. speedometer) clocking of the defendant's speed, corroborated by a trooper's or police officer's estimate (i.e., opinion evidence) of the defendant's speed. See, e.g., People v. Magri, 3 N.Y.2d 562, 564-65, 170 N.Y.S.2d 335, 147 N.E.2d 728 (1958); People v. Maniscalco, 94 Misc.2d 915, 917-18, 405 N.Y.S.2d 888. See also: People v. Smalley, 64 Misc.2d 363, 364-65, 314 N.Y.S.2d 924. However, both forms of evidence are not necessary for there to be a conviction. Either (a) a radar or other mechanical clocking (Magri, supra; People v. Perlman, 89 Misc.2d 973, 977-78, 392 N.Y.S.2d 985) or (b) the

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police officer's independent estimate of the defendant's speed ( People v. Olsen, 22 N.Y.2d 230, 231, 292 N.Y.S.2d 420; Mtr. of Graf v. Foschio, 102 A.D.2d 891, 892, 477 N.Y.S.2d 190; People v. Jeck-Tisch, 133 Misc.2d 1090, 1091, 509 N.Y.S.2d 463) alone can suffice to produce and sustain a conviction.

Doppler radar devices have been judicially accepted as probative evidence of speed for over thirty years ( Magri, supra, 3 N.Y.2d 562, 170 N.Y.S.2d 335, 147 N.E.2d 728), provided they are properly used and were tested within a reasonable time period both before and after the summons in question was issued. Perlman, supra, 89 Misc.2d at 977-78, 392 N.Y.S.2d 985. However, not all uses of such equipment and not all radar or other speed measuring devices are, as yet, accepted as reliable. For example, in People v. Conlon, 109 Misc.2d 729, 731-32, 440 N.Y.S.2d 831, the Court rejected evidence of an MR-9...

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8 practice notes
  • People v. Solomon
    • United States
    • New York County Court
    • January 22, 2013
    ...Police Officer's independent estimate is sufficient in itself, if found to be credible, to prove the violation. Cf. People v. Correia, 140 Misc.2d 813, 531 N.Y.S.2d 998; People v. Silverman, 25 Misc.3d 1236(A), Slip Op., 2009 WL 4432505 (Dec. 3, 2009 Jus. Ct. Muttontown).Defendant has raise......
  • State v. Dunham, Nos. 12–130
    • United States
    • Vermont United States State Supreme Court of Vermont
    • March 1, 2013
    ...historically exhibit a margin of error of only a few miles per hour, serves to qualify officers to estimate speed. People v. Correia, 140 Misc.2d 813, 531 N.Y.S.2d 998, 1001 (Vill.Ct.1988); see also Ludwig, 641 F.3d at 1247–48;United States v. Lork, 132 Fed.Appx. 34, 35 (5th Cir.2005) (per ......
  • People v. Scherbner, LX 183785-0.
    • United States
    • New York Justice Court
    • August 14, 2008
    ...beyond that in the ticket; that is a matter of discretion for the court. (Id.; Gutterson, 93 Misc 2d at 1108-1109; cf. People v Correia, 140 Misc 2d 813, 818 A supporting deposition is designed to provide the defendant with such additional information to enable the defendant to adequately a......
  • People v. Kehoe
    • United States
    • New York Justice Court
    • April 8, 2011
    ...Op. 51518(U), 808 N.Y.S.2d 919, 2005 WL 2335491 (Jus.Ct.Muttontown); People v. Rose, 8 Misc.3d 184, 794 N.Y.S.2d 630; People v. Correia, 140 Misc.2d 813, 818, 531 N.Y.S.2d 998 (Jus.Ct.Muttontown). See also Matter of Miller v. Schwartz, 72 N.Y.2d 869, 870, 532 N.Y.S.2d 354, 528 N.E.2d 507 (“......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
8 cases
  • People v. Solomon
    • United States
    • New York County Court
    • January 22, 2013
    ...Police Officer's independent estimate is sufficient in itself, if found to be credible, to prove the violation. Cf. People v. Correia, 140 Misc.2d 813, 531 N.Y.S.2d 998; People v. Silverman, 25 Misc.3d 1236(A), Slip Op., 2009 WL 4432505 (Dec. 3, 2009 Jus. Ct. Muttontown).Defendant has raise......
  • State v. Dunham, Nos. 12–130
    • United States
    • Vermont United States State Supreme Court of Vermont
    • March 1, 2013
    ...historically exhibit a margin of error of only a few miles per hour, serves to qualify officers to estimate speed. People v. Correia, 140 Misc.2d 813, 531 N.Y.S.2d 998, 1001 (Vill.Ct.1988); see also Ludwig, 641 F.3d at 1247–48;United States v. Lork, 132 Fed.Appx. 34, 35 (5th Cir.2005) (per ......
  • People v. Scherbner, LX 183785-0.
    • United States
    • New York Justice Court
    • August 14, 2008
    ...beyond that in the ticket; that is a matter of discretion for the court. (Id.; Gutterson, 93 Misc 2d at 1108-1109; cf. People v Correia, 140 Misc 2d 813, 818 A supporting deposition is designed to provide the defendant with such additional information to enable the defendant to adequately a......
  • People v. Kehoe
    • United States
    • New York Justice Court
    • April 8, 2011
    ...Op. 51518(U), 808 N.Y.S.2d 919, 2005 WL 2335491 (Jus.Ct.Muttontown); People v. Rose, 8 Misc.3d 184, 794 N.Y.S.2d 630; People v. Correia, 140 Misc.2d 813, 818, 531 N.Y.S.2d 998 (Jus.Ct.Muttontown). See also Matter of Miller v. Schwartz, 72 N.Y.2d 869, 870, 532 N.Y.S.2d 354, 528 N.E.2d 507 (“......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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