People v. Middleton

CourtNew York Court of Appeals
Writing for the CourtMEYER; JONES; JASEN, GABRIELLI and WACHTLER, JJ., concur with MEYER; JONES, J., dissents and votes to reverse in a separate opinion in which COOKE, C. J., and FUCHSBERG
Citation54 N.Y.2d 474,446 N.Y.S.2d 211,430 N.E.2d 1264
Decision Date22 December 1981
Parties, 430 N.E.2d 1264 The PEOPLE of the State of New York, Respondent, v. Leroy MIDDLETON, Appellant.

Page 211

446 N.Y.S.2d 211
54 N.Y.2d 474, 430 N.E.2d 1264
The PEOPLE of the State of New York, Respondent,
v.
Leroy MIDDLETON, Appellant.
Court of Appeals of New York.
Dec. 22, 1981.

Page 212

Brent K. Olsson, Brooklyn, and William E. Hellerstein, New York City, for appellant.

John J. Santucci, Dist. Atty. (Barry A. Schwartz and Deborah Carlin Stevens, Asst. Dist. Attys., of counsel), for respondent.

OPINION OF THE COURT

MEYER, Judge.

A defendant who requests counsel after his arrest but then without provocation seeks to buy his way out by offering a bribe to the arresting officer may be questioned by the officer as to anything legitimately related to the bribe offer that would be asked by an officer intending to accept such an offer. Admission in evidence of such a bribe offer, of any repetition of it, of any statements made in answer to such inquiries, or of any contraband of which the officer learns through the answers to such inquiries violates neither defendant's constitutional right to counsel nor his right to be free of unreasonable search and seizure. The order of the Appellate Division, 77 A.D.2d 820, 429 N.Y.S.2d 338, affirming the Trial Judge's denial of suppression and defendant's conviction after plea of guilty should, therefore, be affirmed.

While on motor patrol together Patrolman James O'Connor and Sergeant John Kelly observed that defendant was driving a vehicle which had no front license plate attached where it normally would be although it bore a New York plate on the rear. They directed defendant to pull over and asked him for his license and registration. Defendant produced the registration but informed the officers that his license had been taken away in South Carolina. Upon making a computer check, the officers discovered that defendant had six suspensions on his license.

While the computer check was in process, defendant asked and received permission to go to a nearby candy store to purchase cigarettes. Upon defendant's return the officers advised him what the computer check had revealed and placed him under arrest for driving with a suspended license. Defendant was given Miranda warnings to which he made no response. He was then asked for the keys to his car so that it could

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be parked while defendant was booked. Defendant responded that he had lost the keys in the snow on the way to the candy store and Sergeant Kelly went to look for them. At this point defendant's wife drove up and Patrolman O'Connor heard appellant instruct her to call his attorney and tell him defendant would be at the 106th Precinct.

During Kelly's absence defendant offered to give O'Connor $5,000 plus another $5,000 after he made a telephone call. O'Connor told defendant to forget it and, after handcuffing him, placed him in the police car. Sergeant Kelly then returned with the keys, which had been hidden in the store, and there followed a conversation between the two officers and defendant in which, responding to Kelly's inquiry as to why he was offering so much money, defendant said that he owed three years' jail time. Defendant was then asked by O'Connor why he did not want the officers to have the keys to the car and he responded that he had about $100 worth of coke in the car. O'Connor next asked where the coke was and was told it was in the front seat. Checking and failing to find it, O'Connor inquired again and was told it was in the back seat. Unable to find it in the back seat, O'Connor inquired again and was then told that it was on the left hand side of the trunk, in a paper bag. Using the keys he had retrieved from the store, Sergeant Kelly then opened the trunk and found a paper bag containing three clear plastic bags filled with a white powder, later determined to be cocaine. Kelly closed the trunk, leaving the paper bag and its contents inside, and told O'Connor he would call Internal Affairs and meet O'Connor and defendant at the station house.

At the station house Kelly was fitted with a hidden recorder. After he rejoined O'Connor and defendant, further conversation concerning the proposed bribe occurred, after which defendant handed Kelly a sum of money and was, thereupon, arrested for bribery and possession of cocaine. The cocaine was then removed from the trunk of the car. Indicted for criminal possession, bribery and violation of the Vehicle and Traffic Law, defendant moved to suppress both his statements and the physical evidence.

After a hearing at which the police officers testified, the hearing Judge denied both aspects of the motion, concluding that the statements were part of the bribe offer and were voluntarily made despite defendant's being advised of his rights and that defendant's admission that he possessed cocaine entitled (indeed, required) the officers to arrest him and search the automobile for the fruits of the admitted crime. No mention was made in defendant's moving papers or in the hearing Judge's decision of defendant's direction to his wife, overheard by Officer O'Connor, to call his attorney. Following denial of his motion, defendant pleaded guilty to the possession count in satisfaction of the indictment. Sentenced to one year to life, defendant appealed the suppression ruling pursuant to CPL 710.70 (subd. 2). The Appellate Division having affirmed, without opinion, defendant appeals to us by permission of a Judge of this court. Before us he argues for the first time, as People v. Ermo, 47 N.Y.2d 863, 865, 419 N.Y.S.2d 65, 392 N.E.2d 1248 and predecessor cases permit, the violation of his right to counsel. We affirm.

Defendant does not argue that his statements prior to his arrest on the Vehicle and Traffic Law charges are suppressible. Further, he concedes in his brief that the offer of $10,000 to the officers not to pursue that arrest was admissible, because it was spontaneous within the meaning of that word as defined in People v. Lynes, 49 N.Y.2d 286, 294, 425 N.Y.S.2d 295, 401 N.E.2d 405 and People v. Maerling, 46 N.Y.2d 289, 302-303, 413 N.Y.S.2d 316, 385 N.E.2d 1245 and because it furnished probable cause for defendant's arrest for bribery. He argues, rather, that though the police were not prevented from immediately investigating the bribery they could not question defendant, absent the attorney whose presence he had to their knowledge requested, about the then pending bribe offer and could not search the trunk for the cocaine of which they had learned through such questioning

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because they did not have legally obtained probable cause to believe the trunk contained contraband.

The issue is thus reduced to the extent to which defendant's prior request for an attorney limited the investigation that would normally be made by a police officer to whom a bribe offer has been made. We agree with defendant's attorney that the bribe offer is admissible notwithstanding the prior request for an attorney, but we do not ground that conclusion solely upon the fact that the time and manner of the offer brought it within the exception to the right to counsel rule for statements spontaneously made (see People v. Stoesser, 53 N.Y.2d 648, 650, 438 N.Y.S.2d 990, 421 N.E.2d 110). Of at least equal importance is the fact that the statement itself constituted an independent crime, for...

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32 practice notes
  • Grimes v. Goord, No. 02-CV-6202.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Court of Western District of New York
    • July 9, 2004
    ...Hoffa v. United States, 385 U.S. 293, 310, 87 S.Ct. 408, 17 L.Ed.2d 374 (1966) (emphasis supplied); accord, People v. Middleton, 54 N.Y.2d 474, 481, 446 N.Y.S.2d 211, 430 N.E.2d 1264 To the extent that federal habeas courts have even considered the constitutionality of delaying arraignment ......
  • People v. Zimmerman
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court (New York)
    • December 29, 1982
    ...respect to the interpretation of People v. Boodle, 47 N.Y.2d 398, 418 N.Y.S.2d 352, 391 N.E.2d Page 471 1329, and People v. Middleton, 54 N.Y.2d 474, 446 N.Y.S.2d 211, 430 N.E.2d 1264, and as to statements attributed to the defendant. In denying the motion of defendant to suppress by applyi......
  • People v. Margolies
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court (New York)
    • October 3, 1984
    ...U.S. at 272, 100 S.Ct. at 2188. Thus, where defendant solicits kickbacks, People v. Ferrara, supra, offers a bribe, People v. Middleton, 54 N.Y.2d 474, 446 N.Y.S.2d 211, 430 N.E.2d 1264 or attempts to suborn perjury, People v. Mealer, 57 N.Y.2d 214, 455 N.Y.S.2d 562, 441 N.E.2d 1080, the st......
  • People v. Caviano
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court (New York)
    • August 27, 1990
    ...46 L.Ed.2d 598 (Powell, J., concurring), reh'g denied, 424 U.S. 979, 96 Page 939 S.Ct. 1488, 47 L.Ed.2d 750 (1976); People v. Middleton, 54 N.Y.2d 474, 446 N.Y.S.2d 211, 430 N.E.2d 1264 (1981) (quoted passages cited with This court's decision declining to adopt such a constitutional doctrin......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
32 cases
  • Grimes v. Goord, No. 02-CV-6202.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Court of Western District of New York
    • July 9, 2004
    ...Hoffa v. United States, 385 U.S. 293, 310, 87 S.Ct. 408, 17 L.Ed.2d 374 (1966) (emphasis supplied); accord, People v. Middleton, 54 N.Y.2d 474, 481, 446 N.Y.S.2d 211, 430 N.E.2d 1264 To the extent that federal habeas courts have even considered the constitutionality of delaying arraignment ......
  • People v. Zimmerman
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court (New York)
    • December 29, 1982
    ...respect to the interpretation of People v. Boodle, 47 N.Y.2d 398, 418 N.Y.S.2d 352, 391 N.E.2d Page 471 1329, and People v. Middleton, 54 N.Y.2d 474, 446 N.Y.S.2d 211, 430 N.E.2d 1264, and as to statements attributed to the defendant. In denying the motion of defendant to suppress by applyi......
  • People v. Margolies
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court (New York)
    • October 3, 1984
    ...U.S. at 272, 100 S.Ct. at 2188. Thus, where defendant solicits kickbacks, People v. Ferrara, supra, offers a bribe, People v. Middleton, 54 N.Y.2d 474, 446 N.Y.S.2d 211, 430 N.E.2d 1264 or attempts to suborn perjury, People v. Mealer, 57 N.Y.2d 214, 455 N.Y.S.2d 562, 441 N.E.2d 1080, the st......
  • People v. Caviano
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court (New York)
    • August 27, 1990
    ...46 L.Ed.2d 598 (Powell, J., concurring), reh'g denied, 424 U.S. 979, 96 Page 939 S.Ct. 1488, 47 L.Ed.2d 750 (1976); People v. Middleton, 54 N.Y.2d 474, 446 N.Y.S.2d 211, 430 N.E.2d 1264 (1981) (quoted passages cited with This court's decision declining to adopt such a constitutional doctrin......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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