People v. Rivera

Decision Date31 May 1988
Citation530 N.Y.S.2d 52,525 N.E.2d 698,71 N.Y.2d 705
Parties, 525 N.E.2d 698 The PEOPLE of the State of New York, Respondent, v. Johnny RIVERA, Appellant. The PEOPLE of the State of New York, Respondent, v. Louis MONTANA, Appellant.
CourtNew York Court of Appeals Court of Appeals
OPINION OF THE COURT

PER CURIAM.

In these two cases, defendants contend that they were denied effective assistance of counsel. In People v. Rivera, defendant was charged with robbery and murder. At trial, the main evidence connecting him to the crimes was his written and videotaped station house confessions, in which he admitted to being a lookout while his friend robbed and killed the victim. Rivera was convicted of felony murder and sentenced to an indeterminate term of 20 years to life. The Appellate Division modified the judgment by reducing defendant's sentence. 133 A.D.2d 24, 518 N.Y.S.2d 619. At trial, Rivera testified that he confessed only after invoking his right to counsel, but before obtaining an attorney, because the police detective told him "it would take too long and make matters worse," and because the detective promised to help him by speaking to the District Attorney if he confessed. Based on this, Rivera contends that he was denied effective assistance of counsel, in that his attorney failed to either move for suppression of the confessions or to request a voluntariness charge.

In People v. Montana, 130 A.D.2d 773, 515 N.Y.S.2d 726, defendant was convicted of burglary, attempted burglary and possession of burglar's tools and the Appellate Division affirmed. Defendant contends that his attorney's failure to move for suppression of physical evidence and statements following an allegedly illegal stop, search and arrest denied him effective assistance of counsel. Further, defendant contends that he was denied effective representation when his attorney entered into a stipulation with the prosecution because the stipulation indicated he was on parole, thereby creating prejudice in the jury's mind.

The right to effective assistance of counsel is guaranteed by the Federal and State Constitutions (U.S. Const. 6th Amend.; N.Y. Const., art. I, § 6). However, what constitutes effective assistance is not and cannot be fixed with precision, but varies according to the particular circumstances of each case ( see, People v. Droz, 39 N.Y.2d 457, 384 N.Y.S.2d 404, 348 N.E.2d 880). A convicted defendant, with the benefit of hindsight, often can point out where he or she thinks trial counsel went awry. "But trial tactics which terminate unsuccessfully do not automatically indicate ineffectiveness. So long as the evidence, the law, and the circumstances of a particular case, viewed in totality and as of the time of the representation, reveal that the attorney provided meaningful representation, the constitutional...

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  • People v. Faulk
    • United States
    • New York Supreme Court — Appellate Division
    • July 22, 2020
    ...failed to demonstrate "the absence of strategic or other legitimate explanations" for counsel's shortcoming ( People v. Rivera, 71 N.Y.2d 705, 709, 530 N.Y.S.2d 52, 525 N.E.2d 698 ; see People v. Caban, 5 N.Y.3d 143, 152, 800 N.Y.S.2d 70, 833 N.E.2d 213 ). The defendant waived his contentio......
  • Jelinek v. Costello
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Eastern District of New York
    • February 27, 2003
    ...establish ineffective assistance of counsel, because such a failure "might ... be motivated by strategy." People v. Rivera, 71 N.Y.2d 705, 530 N.Y.S.2d 52, 525 N.E.2d 698, 699 (1988). Counsel's failure to request a bill of particulars is not per se ineffective. See, e.g., People v. Claitt, ......
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