People v. Mercer

Decision Date31 May 1994
Citation612 N.Y.S.2d 650,204 A.D.2d 741
PartiesThe PEOPLE, etc., Respondent, v. Nathaniel MERCER, Appellant.
CourtNew York Supreme Court — Appellate Division

Morvillo, Abramowitz, Grand, Jason & Silberberg, P.C., New York City (John T. Hecht, of counsel), for appellant.

Charles J. Hynes, Dist. Atty., Brooklyn (Roseann B. MacKechnie, Nancy F. Talcott, Jodi A. Catalano, and Judybeth Tropp, of counsel), for respondent.



Appeal by the defendant from a judgment of the Supreme Court, Kings County (Wade, J.), rendered April 1, 1992, convicting him of criminal sale of a controlled substance in the third degree, criminal possession of a controlled substance in the seventh degree, and unlawful possession of marihuana, upon a jury verdict, and imposing sentence. The appeal brings up for review the denial, without a hearing, of that branch of the defendant's omnibus motion which was to suppress physical evidence.

ORDERED that the judgment is reversed, on the law, and a new trial is ordered. No questions of fact have been raised or considered.

On the evening of January 23, 1991, three undercover police officers assigned to the Brooklyn North Tactical Narcotics Team drove to the corner of Pitkin Avenue and Logan Street in order to participate in a so-called "buy and bust" operation. Upon arriving at that location, one of the undercover officers entered an apartment building at 436 Logan Street, where he purchased two vials of cocaine from the defendant in exchange for $10 in prerecorded money. After the sale was completed, the undercover officer returned to his vehicle and transmitted a description of the suspect to his supervisor. When the defendant exited the apartment building about three minutes later, he was arrested, and the prerecorded money was recovered.

During the course of the trial, the prosecutor moved to close the courtroom during the testimony of the undercover officer who had purchased narcotics from the defendant, and during the testimony of a second undercover officer who had acted as a backup or "ghost" during the transaction. After conducting a hearing pursuant to People v. Hinton, 31 N.Y.2d 71, 334 N.Y.S.2d 885, 286 N.E.2d 265, the trial court granted the People's application to close the courtroom to the public during the testimony of the two officers. Following the ruling, the defendant's attorney, who was employed by the Legal Aid Society, asked that one of her supervisors be permitted to remain in the courtroom, contending that the presence of a supervising attorney would not jeopardize the safety of the undercover officers. Although the Trial Judge acknowledged that it might be to defense counsel's "advantage perhaps to confer" with a supervisor "in some aspect of the case", the court nevertheless denied her request, commenting that "my practice is to exclude everybody".

On appeal, the defendant contends, inter alia, that the trial court improperly closed the courtroom to defense counsel's supervisors during the testimony of the undercover officers. We agree. "The United States Supreme Court has...

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11 cases
  • Brown v. Kuhlmann
    • United States
    • U.S. Court of Appeals — Second Circuit
    • 1 June 1998
    ...A.D.2d 273, 615 N.Y.S.2d 393 (1st Dept.), lv. denied, 84 N.Y.2d 867, 642 N.E.2d 331, 618 N.Y.S.2d 12 (1994); People v. Mercer, 204 A.D.2d 741, 612 N.Y.S.2d 650 (2d Dept.1994); People v. Parker, 194 A.D.2d 335, 598 N.Y.S.2d 490 (1st Dept.1993); People v. Dashnau, 187 A.D.2d 966, 591 N.Y.S.2d......
  • People v. Sanders
    • United States
    • New York Supreme Court — Appellate Division
    • 11 December 2013
    ...N.Y.S.2d 365; People v. Eaton, 14 A.D.3d 577, 789 N.Y.S.2d 194; People v. Williams, 13 A.D.3d 661, 786 N.Y.S.2d 357; People v. Mercer, 204 A.D.2d 741, 612 N.Y.S.2d 650). Although the dissent concludes that these cases are of “limited precedential value” because they do not “contain any desc......
  • People v. K.U.
    • United States
    • New York Supreme Court
    • 4 May 2012
    ...Moreover, defendant's reliance on People v. Hines, 225 A.D.2d 706, 640 N.Y.S.2d 133 (2d Dept. 1996), and People v. Mercer, 204 A.D.2d 741, 612 N.Y.S.2d 650 (2d Dept. 1994), in support of his argument that every attorney at the Bronx Legal Aid Society should be exempted from this Court's ord......
  • People v. Rosado
    • United States
    • New York Supreme Court — Appellate Division
    • 18 December 1995
    ...499 N.Y.S.2d 453). Finally, the defendant's sentences are not excessive and were part of the negotiated pleas (see, People v. Mercer, 204 A.D.2d 741, 612 N.Y.S.2d 650; People v. Suitte, 90 A.D.2d 80, 455 N.Y.S.2d JOY, J.P., and HART and FLORIO, JJ., concur. GOLDSTEIN, J., dissents and votes......
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