People v. Richardson

CourtNew York Court of Appeals
Writing for the CourtGRAFFEO, J.
Citation799 N.E.2d 607,100 N.Y.2d 847,767 N.Y.S.2d 384
PartiesTHE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK, Respondent, v. WILLIAM HENRY RICHARDSON, Appellant.
Decision Date21 October 2003

100 N.Y.2d 847
799 N.E.2d 607
767 N.Y.S.2d 384

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK, Respondent,
v.
WILLIAM HENRY RICHARDSON, Appellant

Court of Appeals of the State of New York.

Argued September 10, 2003.

Decided October 21, 2003.


Center for Appellate Litigation, New York City (William A. Loeb and Robert S. Dean of counsel), for appellant.

100 N.Y.2d 848
Robert M. Morgenthau, District Attorney, New York City (Susan Gliner and Mark Dwyer of counsel), for respondent

Chief Judge KAYE and Judges SMITH, CIPARICK, ROSENBLATT and READ concur.

100 N.Y.2d 849
OPINION OF THE COURT

GRAFFEO, J.

We are asked in this appeal to decide if a trial court has the inherent power to modify its lawful sentence of imprisonment where the court did not specify whether the sentence was to run consecutively or concurrently to an undischarged term of imprisonment on an unrelated conviction. Because the record of the original sentencing proceeding in this case does not suggest that the judge intended to impose consecutive sentences, we conclude that CPL 430.10 precluded the alteration of defendant's sentence.

In 1979, defendant killed an individual during an argument over money. He was convicted of murder in the second degree the following year and was sentenced to an indeterminate prison term of 15 years to life. After he was paroled, defendant killed two people in January 1995.

Defendant remained at liberty until February 1999, when he was charged with a parole violation and returned to prison. Two months later, defendant was arrested for the 1995 slayings. He was eventually indicted on four counts of murder in the second degree—one count of intentional murder and one count of felony murder for each of the two victims—as well as one count of criminal possession of a weapon in the second degree. Although his first trial ended in a mistrial, a jury subsequently convicted defendant of the four second-degree murder counts.

The trial court imposed a prison sentence of 25 years to life on each count of murder in the second degree, with the sentences for the intentional murders to run consecutively to each other but concurrently to the felony murder counts. This produced an aggregate term of imprisonment of 50 years to life. Because the commitment order did not specify that the sentence for the 1995 murders would be consecutive to the earlier undischarged sentence, the later sentence ran concurrently with the prior undischarged term by operation of law (see Penal Law § 70.25 [1] [a]). Upon defendant's return to prison, the Department of Correctional Services (DOCS) determined that defendant was therefore entitled to receive credit for the time served under his prior sentence against the new sentence of 50 years to life. Hence, after factoring the time defendant had served under the earlier sentence, DOCS calculated that he would be eligible for parole in approximately 35 years.

100 N.Y.2d 850
After learning of DOCS' parole eligibility computation, the People moved to reopen the sentencing proceeding to allow the court to clarify that it had intended the new sentence to run consecutively to the undischarged term of imprisonment. Defendant opposed the motion, arguing that the People's proposal was tantamount to a resentencing, which was prohibited under CPL 430.10. Although the court acknowledged that CPL 430.10 barred resentencing, it indicated that it had intended defendant to serve no less than 50 years and its silence regarding the consecutive or concurrent status of the sentences was an inadvertent mistake. Accordingly, the court ordered that the new sentence of 50 years to life would run consecutively to the undischarged prison term. On defendant's appeal, the Appellate Division affirmed the conviction and sentence. A Judge of this Court granted leave to appeal

The propriety of the trial court's action turns on whether it fell within a sentencing court's inherent power to modify a lawful sentence of imprisonment or constituted a resentencing prohibited by CPL 430.10. Defendant contends that a court's ability to correct a sentence does not extend to this...

To continue reading

Request your trial
50 practice notes
  • People v. Barthel, 493
    • United States
    • New York Supreme Court Appellate Division
    • August 26, 2021
    ...sentence – "render[s] those sentences concurrent by operation of law under Penal Law § 70.25 (1) (a)" ( People v. Richardson , 100 N.Y.2d 847, 852, 767 N.Y.S.2d 384, 799 N.E.2d 607 [2003] ; see e.g. People v. Allende , 78 A.D.3d 553, 553, 911 N.Y.S.2d 348 [1st Dept. 2010], lv denied 16 N.Y.......
  • People v. Francis, 2012-05765, Ind. No. 11-00329.
    • United States
    • New York Supreme Court Appellate Division
    • October 21, 2015
    ...errors once final judgment has been rendered or sentence has commenced in a criminal action (see e.g. 132 A.D.3d 896People v. Richardson, 100 N.Y.2d 847, 767 N.Y.S.2d 384, 799 N.E.2d 607 ; Matter of Campbell v. Pesce, 60 N.Y.2d 165, 468 N.Y.S.2d 865, 456 N.E.2d 806 ; see also CPL 430.10 ), ......
  • The People Of The State Of N.Y. v. Williams
    • United States
    • New York Court of Appeals
    • February 23, 2010
    ...Our precedent has long recognized that courts have the inherent authority to correct illegal sentences ( see e.g. People v. Richardson, 100 N.Y.2d 847, 852-853, 767 N.Y.S.2d 384, 799 N.E.2d 607 [2003]; People v. Minaya, 54 N.Y.2d 360, 364, 445 N.Y.S.2d 690, 429 N.E.2d 1161 [1981], cert. den......
  • People v. Williams
    • United States
    • New York Court of Appeals
    • February 23, 2010
    ...Our precedent has long recognized that courts have the inherent authority to correct illegal sentences ( see e.g. People v. Richardson, 100 N.Y.2d 847, 852-853, 767 N.Y.S.2d 384, 799 N.E.2d 607 [2003]; People v. Minaya, 54 N.Y.2d 360, 364, 445 N.Y.S.2d 690, 429 N.E.2d 1161 [1981], cert. den......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
50 cases
  • People v. Barthel, 493
    • United States
    • New York Supreme Court Appellate Division
    • August 26, 2021
    ...sentence – "render[s] those sentences concurrent by operation of law under Penal Law § 70.25 (1) (a)" ( People v. Richardson , 100 N.Y.2d 847, 852, 767 N.Y.S.2d 384, 799 N.E.2d 607 [2003] ; see e.g. People v. Allende , 78 A.D.3d 553, 553, 911 N.Y.S.2d 348 [1st Dept. 2010], lv denied 16 N.Y.......
  • People v. Francis, 2012-05765, Ind. No. 11-00329.
    • United States
    • New York Supreme Court Appellate Division
    • October 21, 2015
    ...errors once final judgment has been rendered or sentence has commenced in a criminal action (see e.g. 132 A.D.3d 896People v. Richardson, 100 N.Y.2d 847, 767 N.Y.S.2d 384, 799 N.E.2d 607 ; Matter of Campbell v. Pesce, 60 N.Y.2d 165, 468 N.Y.S.2d 865, 456 N.E.2d 806 ; see also CPL 430.10 ), ......
  • The People Of The State Of N.Y. v. Williams
    • United States
    • New York Court of Appeals
    • February 23, 2010
    ...Our precedent has long recognized that courts have the inherent authority to correct illegal sentences ( see e.g. People v. Richardson, 100 N.Y.2d 847, 852-853, 767 N.Y.S.2d 384, 799 N.E.2d 607 [2003]; People v. Minaya, 54 N.Y.2d 360, 364, 445 N.Y.S.2d 690, 429 N.E.2d 1161 [1981], cert. den......
  • People v. Williams
    • United States
    • New York Court of Appeals
    • February 23, 2010
    ...Our precedent has long recognized that courts have the inherent authority to correct illegal sentences ( see e.g. People v. Richardson, 100 N.Y.2d 847, 852-853, 767 N.Y.S.2d 384, 799 N.E.2d 607 [2003]; People v. Minaya, 54 N.Y.2d 360, 364, 445 N.Y.S.2d 690, 429 N.E.2d 1161 [1981], cert. den......
  • 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