People v. Quill

CourtNew York County Court
Writing for the CourtNATHAN R. SOBEL
Citation11 Misc.2d 512,177 N.Y.S.2d 380
Decision Date14 January 1958
PartiesThe PEOPLE of the State of New York, Plaintiff, v. Michael J. QUILL, Defendant.

Page 380

177 N.Y.S.2d 380
11 Misc.2d 512
The PEOPLE of the State of New York, Plaintiff,
v.
Michael J. QUILL, Defendant.
Kings County Court.
Jan. 14, 1958.

Page 381

[11 Misc.2d 513] Edward S. Silver, Dist. Atty., Brooklyn, for plaintiff.

Paul O'Dwyer, New York City, for defendant.

NATHAN R. SOBEL, Judge.

The complainant, in a statement read into the record, has requested that no further proceedings be had in this indictment for the reasons stated therein.

The indictment in question charges criminal libel. The indictment was returned on February 11, 1954.

I shall consider complainant's request solely in connection with my power and duty under section 671 of the Code of Criminal Procedure. That section provides that: 'The court may, either of its own motion, or upon the application of the district attorney, and in furtherance of justice, order an action, after indictment, to be dismissed.'

It is settled that sole discretion to dismiss an indictment in the interest of justice is vested in the court. The District Attorney may join in such an application but his consent is not necessary. A study of the history of section 671 will make clear why it was decided to vest such discretion in the court and not in the District Attorney. See Report of Comrs. on Pleading and Prac.--Code Crim.Pro., dated Dec. 31, 1849, p. 343; People v. McLeod, 25 Wend. 483.

Section 671 is a statutory enactment of the former power of nolle prosequi. The power to discontinue prosecution of a crime vested by that section in the court has little or nothing to do with the legal or factual merits of the charge. Nor is it concerned with the guilt or innocence of the defendant. Such a dismissal, is concerned, as the statute states, solely with principles of justice. See State v. McDonald, 10 Okl.Cr. 413, 137 P. 362.

Page 382

The complainant in his statement requests that the prosecution be discontinued. He states that he did not request either the Grand Jury or the District Attorney to find this indictment nor did he consider that he had been libeled by the defendant's statement. He adds that the statement was made by the defendant in the heat of a labor dispute without malice toward himself [11 Misc.2d 514] but for the obvious purpose of gaining advantage for his union in the negotiations.

Ordinarily a complainant in a criminal action has no right to withdraw a complaint. For it is the public, not he, who has been injured by the commission of a crime. It is, therefore, inconceivable that this court could ever dismiss a robbery or burglary prosecution at the request of a complaining witness. On the contrary, such a refusal to proceed or testify, would result inevitably in the institution of contempt proceedings against such a reluctant or recalcitrant witness.

But criminal libel is a special kind of crime. Criminal prosecutions are infrequent. The theory, in...

To continue reading

Request your trial
27 practice notes
  • Hill v. State, No. 5758
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Arkansas
    • December 4, 1972
    ...N.Y.S.2d 312, motion for leave to appeal denied, 3 A.D.2d 764, 161 N.Y.S.2d 577, indictment dismissed on other grounds 11 Misc.2d, 512, 177 N.Y.S.2d 380 The language of the Supreme Court of Washington in State v. Ashe, supra, is appropriate: A crime may be a single act and immediate in all ......
  • People v. Joseph P.
    • United States
    • New York Justice Court
    • October 22, 1980
    ...charge or with the guilt or innocence of the defendant; the Court is solely concerned with the principles of justice. People v. Quill, 11 Misc.2d 512, 177 N.Y.S.2d The criminal procedure process has over thirty-five (35) provisions for determinations to be made in the interests of justice. ......
  • State v. Starrish, No. 43505
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Washington
    • December 11, 1975
    ...proper and legitimate interest.' State v. Camp, supra 67 Wash.2d at 375, 407 P.2d at 832 (Finley, J., dissenting). In People v. Quill, 11 Misc.2d 512, 177 N.Y.S.2d 380 (1958), for example, the court held that the purpose of the criminal libel law, to avert violent retaliation by the victims......
  • People v. Rao
    • United States
    • New York Supreme Court Appellate Division
    • July 20, 1976
    ...little or nothing to do with the legal or factual merits of the charge or the guilt or innocence of the defendant (see People v. Quill, 11 Misc.2d 512, 513, 177 N.Y.S.2d 380, 382), but rather for an allegedly defective Grand Jury proceeding, pursuant to CPL 210.35 (subd. 5), or alleged lega......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
27 cases
  • Hill v. State, No. 5758
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Arkansas
    • December 4, 1972
    ...N.Y.S.2d 312, motion for leave to appeal denied, 3 A.D.2d 764, 161 N.Y.S.2d 577, indictment dismissed on other grounds 11 Misc.2d, 512, 177 N.Y.S.2d 380 The language of the Supreme Court of Washington in State v. Ashe, supra, is appropriate: A crime may be a single act and immediate in all ......
  • People v. Joseph P.
    • United States
    • New York Justice Court
    • October 22, 1980
    ...charge or with the guilt or innocence of the defendant; the Court is solely concerned with the principles of justice. People v. Quill, 11 Misc.2d 512, 177 N.Y.S.2d The criminal procedure process has over thirty-five (35) provisions for determinations to be made in the interests of justice. ......
  • State v. Starrish, No. 43505
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Washington
    • December 11, 1975
    ...proper and legitimate interest.' State v. Camp, supra 67 Wash.2d at 375, 407 P.2d at 832 (Finley, J., dissenting). In People v. Quill, 11 Misc.2d 512, 177 N.Y.S.2d 380 (1958), for example, the court held that the purpose of the criminal libel law, to avert violent retaliation by the victims......
  • People v. Rao
    • United States
    • New York Supreme Court Appellate Division
    • July 20, 1976
    ...little or nothing to do with the legal or factual merits of the charge or the guilt or innocence of the defendant (see People v. Quill, 11 Misc.2d 512, 513, 177 N.Y.S.2d 380, 382), but rather for an allegedly defective Grand Jury proceeding, pursuant to CPL 210.35 (subd. 5), or alleged lega......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT