People v. Mehmedi

Decision Date10 February 1987
Citation69 N.Y.2d 759,513 N.Y.S.2d 100
Parties, 505 N.E.2d 610 The PEOPLE of the State of New York, Appellant, v. Halim MEHMEDI, Respondent.
CourtNew York Court of Appeals Court of Appeals
OPINION OF THE COURT MEMORANDUM.

The order of the Appellate Division, 118 A.D.2d 806, 500 N.Y.S.2d 304, should be affirmed.

Defendant was indicted and tried on charges of weapons possession as a result of driving a car in which two loaded, unlicensed guns were found pursuant to a lawful stop and search by police. According to the testimony of the police officer, the search for the guns was predicated on a police officer's observation of bullets in the console compartment between the front seats which were exposed to his view when the defendant opened the console to look for the car's registration. The defendant denied that he opened the console and claimed that he had no knowledge that the guns were in the car, which belonged to his brother. After deliberations had commenced, the court received the following inquiry from the jury: "when searching for papers who opened the console[?]" The court reconvened the attorneys, the record reflecting the presence of the defense counsel and the prosecutor but the absence of the defendant. The jury was not returned to the courtroom. The court consulted with counsel in framing the answer to the jury's question and, over defense counsel's objection to the wording of the response, it sent a written note to the jury stating: "The police officer said the defendant did. The defendant denies it". Defense counsel did not object to the failure to return the jury to the courtroom or to defendant's absence from the proceedings. On the appeal, the Appellate Division reversed and ordered a new trial because the court had proceeded to instruct the jury in the absence of the defendant.

CPL 310.30 provides that, when a deliberating jury requests additional instructions, the court must return the jury to the courtroom and, after proper notice to counsel "and in the presence of the defendant", give such requested information or instructions as the court deems proper. The People concede the court erred in proceeding contrary to CPL 310.30 and that its error presents a question of law even in the absence of objection (see, People v. Ciaccio, 47 N.Y.2d 431, 436-437, 418 N.Y.S.2d 371, 391 N.E.2d 1347). They contend, however, that the error was harmless (see, e.g., People v. Mullen, 44 N.Y.2d 1, 403 N.Y.S.2d 470, 374 N.E.2d 369; People ex rel. Lupo v. Fay, 13 N.Y.2d 253, 246 N.Y.S.2d 399, 196 N.E.2d 56).

Failure to comply with the statutory mandate of CPL 310.30 results in a substantial departure from a statutory provision that affects " 'the organization of the court or the mode of...

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  • Colon v. Johnson
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Southern District of New York
    • July 28, 1998
    ...mention of any catch-all phrase such as "due process" or "fair trial." His argument relied principally on People v. Mehmedi, 69 N.Y.2d 759, 513 N.Y.S.2d 100, 505 N.E.2d 610 (1987), where the trial court in response to a request for instructions had given the jury a note framed by the court ......
  • People v. Morrison
    • United States
    • New York Court of Appeals Court of Appeals
    • June 28, 2018
    ...are immune from the rules governing preservation and waiver, as well as from harmless error analysis (see People v. Mehmedi, 69 N.Y.2d 759, 760, 513 N.Y.S.2d 100, 505 N.E.2d 610 [1987] ; People v. Ahmed, 66 N.Y.2d 307, 310, 496 N.Y.S.2d 984, 487 N.E.2d 894 [1985] ; Patterson, 39 N.Y.2d at 2......
  • People v. Damiano
    • United States
    • New York Court of Appeals Court of Appeals
    • January 16, 1996
    ...provided to a jury (see, e.g., People v. Moore, 71 N.Y.2d 684, 688, 529 N.Y.S.2d 739, 525 N.E.2d 460; People v. Mehmedi, 69 N.Y.2d 759, 760, 513 N.Y.S.2d 100, 505 N.E.2d 610, rearg. denied 69 N.Y.2d 985, 516 N.Y.S.2d 1028, 509 N.E.2d 363; People v. Nimmons, 72 N.Y.2d 830, 530 N.Y.S.2d 543, ......
  • People v. Smart
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    • New York Supreme Court — Appellate Division
    • November 16, 2012
    ...Court violated defendant's fundamental right to be present at a material stage of trial ( see generally People v. Mehmedi, 69 N.Y.2d 759, 760, 513 N.Y.S.2d 100, 505 N.E.2d 610,rearg. denied69 N.Y.2d 985, 516 N.Y.S.2d 1028, 509 N.E.2d 363). We note at the outset that, contrary to defendant's......
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