People v. Longtin

Decision Date17 December 1998
Citation707 N.E.2d 418,92 N.Y.2d 640,684 N.Y.S.2d 463
Parties, 707 N.E.2d 418, 1998 N.Y. Slip Op. 11,285 The PEOPLE of the State of New York, Respondent, v. Lee LONGTIN, Appellant.
CourtNew York Court of Appeals Court of Appeals
OPINION OF THE COURT

Chief Judge KAYE.

Defendant on this appeal urges that his conviction should be overturned because a potential conflict of interest prevented his attorney from providing effective assistance of counsel, and because the prosecution failed to timely disclose certain Brady material. Concluding that neither claim provides a basis for reversal, we affirm the Appellate Division order upholding the conviction.

In August 1991, a police informant made two controlled buys of cocaine from defendant at his home in the Town of Dryden. The following month, police obtained an eavesdropping warrant authorizing a wiretap on defendant's telephone, which allowed them to intercept a conversation in which defendant arranged for the purchase of 250 grams of cocaine for $7,000 from Richard Muniz. The following morning, police observed Richard Lucas and Daryl Hallock leave defendant's home in his car. That afternoon, Lucas and Hallock were seen in New York City with Muniz, and at approximately 10:00 P.M. were seen arriving back at defendant's residence. After executing a no-knock search warrant at defendant's residence, police found four packages of cocaine, two electronic scales, assorted plastic bags, a bottle of Inositol (a cutting agent) and approximately three pounds of marihuana.

Defendant was indicted, along with Muniz, Hallock and Lucas, for two counts of conspiracy in the second degree. Defendant was also charged individually with various counts of criminal possession of a controlled substance, criminal possession of marihuana, criminal sale of a controlled substance and criminally using drug paraphernalia.

On November 5, 1992, during voir dire, defense counsel informed the court and the prosecution that he had just learned that State Police Investigator Robert Lishansky, who was on the People's witness list, had been suspended for alleged evidence tampering. Lishansky had found fingerprints of defendant and codefendant Hallock on the packaging material containing the drugs seized from defendant's home. The prosecutor responded that, while he had no "firm information" that Lishansky falsified the prints in defendant's case, he would not call him as a witness or introduce the fingerprint evidence at trial.

Defense counsel also informed the court and the prosecutor that he had just been told that David Harding, a State Police Investigator who served in the same unit as Lishansky, had pleaded guilty to charges of evidence tampering. Counsel stated:

"I was asked by David Harding to represent him. I interviewed Mr. Harding on four occasions. I have a lot of information, of course, that I have obtained which, of course, is protected by the attorney/client privilege. So I am handicapped in how far I can go with this."

Counsel then moved for a mistrial on the ground that Brady material was not timely produced. Noting that Lishansky was suspended on October 23 and plea negotiations with Harding took place prior to defendant's trial, counsel argued that it was inconceivable that someone in the Tompkins County District Attorney's office would not have known about Lishansky earlier. At the latest, defense counsel argued, the material should have been turned over on October 23. The prosecutor responded that a special prosecutor's investigation of Harding had been extended to include Lishansky and possible evidence tampering in an unrelated case. The prosecutor maintained that he had just learned of the possibility of Lishansky's evidence tampering in defendant's case.

County Court denied defendant's motion for dismissal or a mistrial on the basis of a Brady violation. Defendant was convicted, after a jury trial, of conspiracy in the second degree, two counts of criminal possession of a controlled substance in the first degree, criminal possession of marihuana in the second degree, three counts of criminally using drug paraphernalia in the second degree, and two counts of criminal sale of a controlled substance in the third degree. The Appellate Division affirmed defendant's conviction, as do we.

The New York State and Federal Constitutions guarantee the right to effective assistance of counsel, meaning representation that is reasonably competent, conflict-free and singlemindedly devoted to the client's best interests (People v. Ortiz, 76 N.Y.2d 652, 656, 563 N.Y.S.2d 20, 564 N.E.2d 630). A lawyer who represents two clients with conflicting interests by definition cannot give either client undivided loyalty (id.; see also, People v. McDonald, 68 N.Y.2d 1, 9, 505 N.Y.S.2d 824, 496 N.E.2d 844; People v. Mattison, 67 N.Y.2d 462, 468, 503 N.Y.S.2d 709, 494 N.E.2d 1374, cert. denied 479 U.S. 984, 107...

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31 cases
  • People v. Garrett
    • United States
    • New York Court of Appeals Court of Appeals
    • 30 June 2014
    ...365 [1st Dept.2013] ; People v. Longtin, 245 A.D.2d 807, 810, 666 N.Y.S.2d 357 [3d Dept.1997], affd. on other grounds 92 N.Y.2d 640, 684 N.Y.S.2d 463, 707 N.E.2d 418 [1998], cert. denied 526 U.S. 1114, 119 S.Ct. 1760, 143 L.Ed.2d 791 [1999] ). In Vasquez, the First Department explained that......
  • People v. Cortez
    • United States
    • New York Court of Appeals Court of Appeals
    • 21 January 2014
    ...interests' ” ( People v. Berroa, 99 N.Y.2d 134, 139, 753 N.Y.S.2d 12, 782 N.E.2d 1148 [2002], quoting People v. Longtin, 92 N.Y.2d 640, 644, 684 N.Y.S.2d 463, 707 N.E.2d 418 [1998],cert. denied526 U.S. 1114, 119 S.Ct. 1760, 143 L.Ed.2d 791 [1999] ). A trial judge faced with an attorney conf......
  • People v. Garrett
    • United States
    • New York Court of Appeals Court of Appeals
    • 30 June 2014
    ...365 [1st Dept.2013] ; People v. Longtin, 245 A.D.2d 807, 810, 666 N.Y.S.2d 357 [3d Dept.1997], affd. on other grounds 92 N.Y.2d 640, 684 N.Y.S.2d 463, 707 N.E.2d 418 [1998], cert. denied 526 U.S. 1114, 119 S.Ct. 1760, 143 L.Ed.2d 791 [1999] ). In Vasquez, the First Department explained that......
  • People v. Payton
    • United States
    • New York Supreme Court — Appellate Division
    • 14 November 2012
    ...client's best interests' ” ( People v. Berroa, 99 N.Y.2d 134, 139, 753 N.Y.S.2d 12, 782 N.E.2d 1148, quoting People v. Longtin, 92 N.Y.2d 640, 644, 684 N.Y.S.2d 463, 707 N.E.2d 418,cert. denied526 U.S. 1114, 119 S.Ct. 1760, 143 L.Ed.2d 791). Accordingly, “where a defendant makes a conflict-......
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