People v. Ramjit

Decision Date18 April 1994
Citation203 A.D.2d 488,612 N.Y.S.2d 600
PartiesThe PEOPLE, etc., Appellant, v. Carl RAMJIT, Joe Ramjit, and Tony Ramjit, Respondents.
CourtNew York Supreme Court — Appellate Division

Richard A. Brown, Dist. Atty., Kew Gardens (Steven J. Chananie, John M. Castellano, Nicoletta J. Caferri, and Anne-Marie Mullaney, of counsel), for appellant.

Philip L. Weinstein, New York City (Laura Burde, of counsel), for respondent Joe Ramjit.

Mark L. Potashnick, Mineola, for respondent Carl Ramjit (no brief filed).

Michael C. Anastasiou, Forest Hills, for respondent Tony Ramjit (no brief filed).

Before THOMPSON, J.P., and COPERTINO, PIZZUTO and SANTUCCI, JJ.

MEMORANDUM BY THE COURT.

Appeal by the People from an order of the Supreme Court, Queens County (Thomas, J.), dated November 18, 1992, which granted those branches of the omnibus motions of the defendants Joe and Carl Ramjit which are to dismiss the indictment and, sua sponte, dismissed the indictment as against Tony Ramjit.

ORDERED that the order is reversed, on the law, those branches of the defendants' omnibus motions which are to dismiss the indictment are denied and the indictment is reinstated as against all three defendants.

Carl Ramjit was indicted for, inter alia, rape in the first degree and sodomy in the first degree. His two sons, co-defendants Tony and Joe Ramjit, were charged in the same indictment with intimidating and harassing the victim, whom they allegedly telephoned and threatened to kill after their father had been arrested.

Prior to trial, Carl and Joe Ramjit moved to dismiss the indictment. The Supreme Court granted their motions on the grounds, inter alia, that the charges against Carl Ramjit and his sons were impermissibly joined in the same indictment and that the People had improperly failed to alert the Grand Jury to the existence of allegedly exculpatory evidence in their possession.

With regard to the latter basis for dismissal, the record demonstrates that before the case was presented to the Grand Jury, counsel for Carl Ramjit gave the prosecutor the names of certain witnesses whose testimony he claimed would establish that Ramjit had not committed the crime. After conducting two separate investigations, the prosecutor concluded that defense counsel's representations concerning the exculpatory nature of the proposed testimony could not be confirmed and that she would not present the evidence to the Grand Jury. However, the prosecutor informed Carl Ramjit's counsel that Ramjit and his witnesses would be given the opportunity to testify before the Grand Jury. Ramjit's counsel declined the prosecutor's offer and indicated that he would call the witnesses at trial.

We conclude that the Supreme Court erred in dismissing the indictment. Significantly, "the People maintain broad discretion in presenting their case to the Grand Jury and need not seek [out] evidence favorable to the defendant or present all of their evidence tending to exculpate the accused" (People v. Mitchell, 82 N.Y.2d 509, 515, 605 N.Y.S.2d 655, 626 N.E.2d 630; People v. Lancaster, 69 N.Y.2d 20, 26, 511 N.Y.S.2d 559, 503 N.E.2d 990, cert. denied 480 U.S. 922, 107 S.Ct. 1383, 94 L.Ed.2d 697; People v. Kaba, 177 A.D.2d 506, 508, 575 N.Y.S.2d 716). Moreover, "[i]n the ordinary case, it is the defendant who, through the exercise of his own right to testify and have others called to testify on his behalf before the Grand Jury (CPL 190.50[5], [6] brings exculpatory evidence [before] the Grand Jury" (People v. Lancaster, supra, 69 N.Y.2d at 26, 511 N.Y.S.2d 559, 503 N.E.2d 990). The Court of Appeals has observed that not every complete defense suggested by the evidence need be charged to the Grand Jury. The test is the potential of the defense in question to eliminate a "needless or unfounded prosecution" (People v. Lancaster, supra, 69 N.Y.2d, at 27, 511 N.Y.S.2d 559, 503 N.E.2d 990).

Here, the allegedly exculpatory evidence neither implicated a complete legal defense nor was of such quality as to create the potential to eliminate a "needless or unfounded prosecution" (People v. Lancaster, supra, at 27, 511 N.Y.S.2d 559, 503 N.E.2d 990; People v. Valles, 62 N.Y.2d 36, 38, 476 N.Y.S.2d...

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12 cases
  • State v. Hogan
    • United States
    • New Jersey Supreme Court
    • 23 Mayo 1996
    ...proceeding); State v. Skjonsby, 319 N.W.2d 764, 783 (N.D.1982) (evidence that would preclude issuing indictment); People v. Ramjit, 203 A.D.2d 488, 612 N.Y.S.2d 600, 602 (evidence that implicates complete legal defense or could eliminate needless or unfounded prosecution), appeal denied, 84......
  • People v. Wilcox
    • United States
    • New York Supreme Court — Appellate Division
    • 7 Mayo 2021
    ...nor was of such quality as to create the potential to eliminate a ‘needless or unfounded prosecution’ " ( People v. Ramjit , 203 A.D.2d 488, 490, 612 N.Y.S.2d 600 [2d Dept. 1994], lv denied 84 N.Y.2d 831, 617 N.Y.S.2d 151, 641 N.E.2d 172 [1994] ). Rather, as the People correctly contend, th......
  • People v. Beliard
    • United States
    • New York Supreme Court — Appellate Division
    • 13 Diciembre 2012
    ...216 A.D.2d 857, 857, 629 N.Y.S.2d 157 [1995],lv. denied86 N.Y.2d 804, 632 N.Y.S.2d 518, 656 N.E.2d 617 [1995];People v. Ramjit, 203 A.D.2d 488, 490, 612 N.Y.S.2d 600 [1994],lv. denied84 N.Y.2d 831, 617 N.Y.S.2d 151, 641 N.E.2d 172 [1994] ). Defendant further claims that the consolidation vi......
  • People v. Lee
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    • New York Supreme Court
    • 19 Agosto 1998
    ...cert. denied 480 U.S. 922, 107 S.Ct. 1383, 94 L.Ed.2d 697; People v. Kaba, 177 A.D.2d 506, 508, 575 N.Y.S.2d 716) (People v. Ramjit, 203 A.D.2d 488, 489, 612 N.Y.S.2d 600). For, grand jury proceedings are non-adversarial, except for the provisions of CPL 190.50(5) and (6), for the defendant......
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