People v. Sanders

CourtNew York Court of Appeals
Writing for the CourtSTEIN, J.
Citation25 N.Y.3d 337,34 N.E.3d 344,12 N.Y.S.3d 593,2015 N.Y. Slip Op. 04755
PartiesThe PEOPLE of the State of New York, Respondent, v. Rasaun SANDERS, Also Known as Boo Cracks, Appellant.
Decision Date09 June 2015

25 N.Y.3d 337
34 N.E.3d 344
12 N.Y.S.3d 593
2015 N.Y. Slip Op. 04755

The PEOPLE of the State of New York, Respondent
v.
Rasaun SANDERS, Also Known as Boo Cracks, Appellant.

Court of Appeals of New York.

June 9, 2015.


12 N.Y.S.3d 594

Mark Diamond, New York City, for appellant.

Janet DiFiore, District Attorney, White Plains (Jennifer Spencer, Laurie Sapakoff and Steven A. Bender of counsel), for respondent.

OPINION OF THE COURT

STEIN, J.

34 N.E.3d 345
25 N.Y.3d 338

In this appeal, we are asked to consider whether a plea colloquy was adequate to effect a valid waiver of the right to appeal by a criminal defendant. The record here, including the plea colloquy and the other relevant facts, such as proof of defendant's

25 N.Y.3d 339

experience and background, is sufficient to uphold defendant's waiver of his right to appeal as voluntary, knowing and intelligent.

I.

In the course of a May 2009 gang assault of the 16–year–old victim, defendant stabbed the victim in the chest with a knife, killing him. Upon his arrest, defendant received his Miranda warnings and, after approximately two hours of questioning, admitted to the stabbing. He was charged in an indictment with murder in the second degree, gang assault in the first degree and criminal possession of a weapon in the third degree. After defendant's motion to suppress his statements was denied in part, he pleaded guilty on the eve of trial to manslaughter in the first degree and gang assault in the first degree.

During the plea colloquy, County Court set forth the terms of the plea, and the prosecutor conducted the voir dire examination.1 The prosecutor discussed the rights normally forfeited upon a plea of guilty, inquired as to whether defendant was pleading voluntarily because he was guilty, and reviewed potential collateral consequences of the plea with him. The prosecutor also advised defendant of the consequences he could face if he failed to voluntarily appear for sentencing or committed another crime prior thereto. Regarding

34 N.E.3d 346
12 N.Y.S.3d 595

the waiver of the right to appeal, the following exchange then took place between the prosecutor and defendant:

“Q. Do you understand that as a condition of this plea you are waiving the right to appeal your conviction and sentence to the Appellate Division Second Department?

“A. Yes.
“Q. Have you discussed this waiver of the right to appeal with your attorney?
“A. Yes.
25 N.Y.3d 340
“Q. In consideration of this negotiated plea[,] do you now voluntarily waive your right to appeal your conviction and sentence under this indictment?
“A. Yes.”

Immediately thereafter, the prosecutor asked defense counsel whether he was “withdraw[ing] all motions made by you whether pending or decided?” Counsel responded, “Yes, withdrawn.” The prosecutor conducted the factual allocution and the court accepted the plea. Defendant was thereafter sentenced, as a predicate violent felony offender, to an aggregate term of 20 years in prison, to be followed by five years of postrelease supervision.

Defendant filed a pro se notice of appeal. The Appellate Division, Second Department affirmed, concluding that defendant's valid waiver of the right to appeal barred his challenge to County Court's suppression ruling (112 A.D.3d 748, 748–750, 976 N.Y.S.2d 205 [2013] ). A dissenting Justice of the Appellate Division granted defendant leave to appeal (22 N.Y.3d 1160, 984 N.Y.S.2d 644, 7 N.E.3d 1133 [2014] ), and we now affirm.

II.

In People v. Seaberg, this Court recognized for the first time that a defendant may waive his or her statutory right to an initial appeal, provided that the waiver is “not only ... voluntary but also knowing and intelligent” (74 N.Y.2d 1, 11, 543 N.Y.S.2d 968, 541 N.E.2d 1022 [1989] ). We explained that a trial court must review the waiver and “determine[ ] [whether] it meets those requirements by considering all the relevant facts and circumstances surrounding the waiver, including the nature and terms of the agreement and the age, experience and background of the accused” (id.; see People v. Calvi, 89 N.Y.2d 868, 871, 653 N.Y.S.2d 89, 675 N.E.2d 843 [1996] ; People v. Callahan, 80 N.Y.2d 273, 280, 283, 590 N.Y.S.2d 46, 604 N.E.2d 108 [1992] ). The trial court must also ensure that defendant's “full appreciation of the consequences” and understanding of the terms and conditions of the plea, including a waiver of the right to appeal, are apparent on the face of the record (Seaberg, 74 N.Y.2d at 11, 543 N.Y.S.2d 968, 541 N.E.2d 1022 ; Callahan , 80 N.Y.2d at 280, 590 N.Y.S.2d 46, 604 N.E.2d 108 ). In that regard, we emphasized in Seaberg that the trial “court should have required [the defendant] to state his understanding and acceptance” of the details of the plea bargain on the record (74 N.Y.2d at 11, 543 N.Y.S.2d 968, 541 N.E.2d 1022 ); nevertheless, we upheld the waiver in that case despite the fact that the defendant did not personally participate in the court's colloquy with his

25 N.Y.3d 341

counsel, given the other relevant facts on the record that demonstrated the defendant's understanding of the waiver (see id. at 11–12, 543 N.Y.S.2d 968, 541 N.E.2d 1022 ; see also People v. Moissett, 76 N.Y.2d 909, 911, 563 N.Y.S.2d 43, 564 N.E.2d 653 [1990] ).

Although we have since “underscore[d] the critical nature of a court's colloquy with a defendant explaining the right relinquished by an appeal waiver” (People v. Lopez, 6 N.Y.3d 248, 253, 811 N.Y.S.2d 623, 844 N.E.2d 1145 [2006] ), we

34 N.E.3d 347
12 N.Y.S.3d 596

have continued to require assessment of all of the relevant factors surrounding the waiver, including the experience and background of the accused (see People v. Bradshaw, 18 N.Y.3d 257, 264–265, 938 N.Y.S.2d 254, 961 N.E.2d 645 [2011] ). Moreover, we have never abandoned our oft-stated instruction that “a trial court need not engage in any particular litany when apprising a defendant pleading guilty of the individual rights abandoned” (Lopez, 6 N.Y.3d at 256, 811 N.Y.S.2d 623, 844 N.E.2d 1145 ; see Bradshaw, 18 N.Y.3d at 265, 938 N.Y.S.2d 254, 961 N.E.2d 645 ; People v. Kemp, 94 N.Y.2d 831, 833, 703 N.Y.S.2d 59, 724 N.E.2d 754 [1999] ; Callahan , 80 N.Y.2d at 283, 590 N.Y.S.2d 46, 604 N.E.2d 108 ). Contrary to defendant's argument, this Court has not—in People v. Nicholson, a companion case decided with Lopez, or in any other case—set forth the absolute minimum that must be conveyed to a pleading defendant in the plea colloquy in order for the right to appeal to be validly waived. We have long rejected that approach on the ground that “a sound discretion exercised in cases on an individual basis is best rather than to mandate a uniform procedure which, like as not, would become a purely ritualistic device ... [that] eliminate[s] thinking” (People v. Nixon, 21 N.Y.2d 338, 355, 287 N.Y.S.2d 659, 234 N.E.2d 687 [1967] ).

III.

With those principles in mind, we conclude that the record before us sufficiently demonstrates that defendant knowingly and intelligently waived his right to appeal. There is no meaningful distinction between the plea colloquy here and the colloquy upheld in Nicholso...

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659 practice notes
  • People v. Wiggins
    • United States
    • New York Supreme Court Appellate Division
    • October 6, 2016
    ...denied defendant's constitutional speedy trial claim. Defendant made a valid waiver of his right to appeal (see People v. Sanders, 25 N.Y.3d 337, 341, 12 N.Y.S.3d 593, 34 N.E.3d 344 [2015] ; People v. Lopez, 6 N.Y.3d 248, 256–257, 811 N.Y.S.2d 623, 844 N.E.2d 1145 [2006] ), which forecloses......
  • People v. Thomas, No. 87, No. 88, No. 89
    • United States
    • New York Court of Appeals
    • November 26, 2019
    ...minimum that must be conveyed to a pleading defendant in the plea colloquy in order for the right to appeal to be validly waived" ( 25 N.Y.3d 337, 341, 12 N.Y.S.3d 593, 34 N.E.3d 344 [2015] ). Rather, in determining whether the record demonstrates that a defendant understood an appeal waive......
  • People v. Kates, 638
    • United States
    • New York Supreme Court Appellate Division
    • June 15, 2018
    ...forecloses our review of defendant's challenges in his main brief to County Court's adverse suppression ruling (see People v. Sanders, 25 N.Y.3d 337, 342, 12 N.Y.S.3d 593, 34 N.E.3d 344 [2015] ; People v. Kemp, 94 N.Y.2d 831, 833, 703 N.Y.S.2d 59, 724 N.E.2d 754 [1999] ). Defendant further ......
  • People v. Batista, 2014–11805
    • United States
    • New York Supreme Court Appellate Division
    • November 7, 2018
    ...86 N.Y.S.3d 496the nature and terms of the agreement and the age, experience and background of the accused" ( People v. Sanders, 25 N.Y.3d 337, 340, 12 N.Y.S.3d 593, 34 N.E.3d 344 [internal quotation marks omitted] ). "The trial court must also ensure that defendant's full appreciation of t......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
659 cases
  • People v. Wiggins
    • United States
    • New York Supreme Court Appellate Division
    • October 6, 2016
    ...denied defendant's constitutional speedy trial claim. Defendant made a valid waiver of his right to appeal (see People v. Sanders, 25 N.Y.3d 337, 341, 12 N.Y.S.3d 593, 34 N.E.3d 344 [2015] ; People v. Lopez, 6 N.Y.3d 248, 256–257, 811 N.Y.S.2d 623, 844 N.E.2d 1145 [2006] ), which forecloses......
  • People v. Thomas, No. 87, No. 88, No. 89
    • United States
    • New York Court of Appeals
    • November 26, 2019
    ...minimum that must be conveyed to a pleading defendant in the plea colloquy in order for the right to appeal to be validly waived" ( 25 N.Y.3d 337, 341, 12 N.Y.S.3d 593, 34 N.E.3d 344 [2015] ). Rather, in determining whether the record demonstrates that a defendant understood an appeal waive......
  • People v. Kates, 638
    • United States
    • New York Supreme Court Appellate Division
    • June 15, 2018
    ...forecloses our review of defendant's challenges in his main brief to County Court's adverse suppression ruling (see People v. Sanders, 25 N.Y.3d 337, 342, 12 N.Y.S.3d 593, 34 N.E.3d 344 [2015] ; People v. Kemp, 94 N.Y.2d 831, 833, 703 N.Y.S.2d 59, 724 N.E.2d 754 [1999] ). Defendant further ......
  • People v. Batista, 2014–11805
    • United States
    • New York Supreme Court Appellate Division
    • November 7, 2018
    ...86 N.Y.S.3d 496the nature and terms of the agreement and the age, experience and background of the accused" ( People v. Sanders, 25 N.Y.3d 337, 340, 12 N.Y.S.3d 593, 34 N.E.3d 344 [internal quotation marks omitted] ). "The trial court must also ensure that defendant's full appreciation of t......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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