People v. Sanders

CourtNew York Supreme Court Appellate Division
Writing for the CourtREINALDO E. RIVERA
Citation976 N.Y.S.2d 205,112 A.D.3d 748,2013 N.Y. Slip Op. 08276
Decision Date11 December 2013
PartiesThe PEOPLE, etc., respondent, v. Rasaun SANDERS, also known as “Boo Cracks,” appellant.

112 A.D.3d 748
976 N.Y.S.2d 205
2013 N.Y. Slip Op. 08276

The PEOPLE, etc., respondent,
v.
Rasaun SANDERS, also known as “Boo Cracks,” appellant.

Supreme Court, Appellate Division, Second Department, New York.

Dec. 11, 2013.


[976 N.Y.S.2d 206]


Mark Diamond, New York, N.Y., for appellant.

Janet DiFiore, District Attorney, White Plains, N.Y. (Laurie Sapakoff and Richard Longworth Hecht of counsel), for respondent.


REINALDO E. RIVERA, J.P., CHERYL E. CHAMBERS, L. PRISCILLA HALL and PLUMMER E. LOTT, JJ.

Appeal by the defendant from a judgment of the County Court, Westchester County (Hubert, J.), rendered May 27, 2010, convicting him of manslaughter in the first degree and gang assault in the first degree, upon his plea of guilty, and imposing sentence.

ORDERED that the judgment is affirmed.

The defendant, while acting in concert with several others, stabbed the 16–year–old victim to death. He was charged, inter alia, with murder in the second degree. Following the partial denial of his motion to suppress certain inculpatory statements he made to law enforcement officials, the defendant decided to plead guilty to manslaughter in the first degree and gang assault in the first degree in exchange for concurrent terms of 20 years of imprisonment. During the plea colloquy, the prosecutor asked the defendant if he understood that, as a condition of this plea, he was waiving the right to appeal his conviction and sentence to “the Appellate Division Second Department,” if he had discussed the waiver with his attorney, and if he was willing, in consideration of this plea, to waive that right voluntarily. The defendant answered in the affirmative to all three questions. Thereafter, the defendant was sentenced in accordance with the terms of his plea agreement.

On appeal, the defendant contends that the County Court erred in denying portions of his suppression motion. However, the defendant is precluded from raising that contention on appeal by virtue of his valid appeal waiver.

In order to be enforceable, a waiver of the right to appeal must be made knowingly, voluntarily, and intelligently ( see People v. Lopez, 6 N.Y.3d 248, 255, 811 N.Y.S.2d 623, 844 N.E.2d 1145; People v. Seaberg, 74 N.Y.2d 1, 10, 543 N.Y.S.2d 968, 541 N.E.2d 1022). In determining whether a waiver is valid, all the relevant facts and circumstances surrounding the waiver, including the nature and terms of the agreement, as well as the age, experience, and background of the accused, must be considered ( see People v. Bradshaw, 18 N.Y.3d 257, 264, 938 N.Y.S.2d 254, 961 N.E.2d 645; People v. Seaberg, 74 N.Y.2d at 11, 543 N.Y.S.2d 968, 541 N.E.2d 1022).

[976 N.Y.S.2d 207]

Because a trial court must take into account all the relevant facts and circumstances of the myriad defendants who appear before it and the permutations of various plea deals, it need not engage in any particular litany or catechism in satisfying itself that a knowing, voluntary, and intelligent appeal waiver has been entered ( see People v. Bradshaw, 18 N.Y.3d at 264, 938 N.Y.S.2d 254, 961 N.E.2d 645). The trial court, with the benefit of having the opportunity to observe the defendant before it, is in the best position to make this determination in the first instance ( see id.; People v. Callahan, 80 N.Y.2d 273, 280, 590 N.Y.S.2d 46, 604 N.E.2d 108).

In People v. Lopez, 6 N.Y.3d 248, 254, 811 N.Y.S.2d 623, 844 N.E.2d 1145, as part of his plea colloquy, and following an explanation of the trial rights forfeited by virtue of a guilty plea, the court said to the defendant, “ ‘You also understand you're giving up your right to appeal, that is, to take to a higher court than this one any of the legal issues connected with this case? You understand that?’ ” The defendant answered, “ ‘Yes.’ ” The defendant did not sign a written appeal waiver. The Court of Appeals held that the waiver was effective, noting that the nature of the right being waived was adequately described ( see id. at 257, 811 N.Y.S.2d 623, 844 N.E.2d 1145).

Similarly, in People v. Torres, 236 A.D.2d 642, 654 N.Y.S.2d 658, the court asked the defendant if his attorney had explained to him that the waiver of appeal meant he could not take the case to a higher court, and the defendant replied that counsel had, and that he had consented to it. This colloquy, this Court held, while “terse,” was “enough” to conclude that the waiver was made knowingly, voluntarily, and intelligently ( id.).

Consistent with our precedent and as guided by Lopez, this same colloquy, advising a defendant that he or she has the right to appeal his or her conviction and sentence to the Appellate Division, Second Department, has been repeatedly upheld by this Court as resulting in a valid waiver ( see People v. Arias, 100 A.D.3d 914, 953 N.Y.S.2d 892; People v. Gonzalez, 93 A.D.3d 679, 939 N.Y.S.2d 714; People v. Brown, 78 A.D.3d 723, 909 N.Y.S.2d 662; People v. Ramos, 77 A.D.3d 773, 909 N.Y.S.2d 484; People v. Buniek, 52 A.D.3d 621, 858 N.Y.S.2d 891; People v. Reina, 35 A.D.3d 509, 826 N.Y.S.2d 143; People v. Rosas, 34 A.D.3d 605, 823 N.Y.S.2d 684; People v. Sherrill, 27 A.D.3d 588, 810 N.Y.S.2d 372; People v. Carden, 27 A.D.3d 573, 810 N.Y.S.2d 365; People v. Eaton, 14 A.D.3d 577, 789 N.Y.S.2d 194; People v. Williams, 13 A.D.3d 661, 786 N.Y.S.2d 357; People v. Mercer, 204 A.D.2d 741, 612 N.Y.S.2d 650). Although the dissent concludes that these cases are of “limited precedential value” because they do not “contain any description of the plea colloquy at issue,” it is well settled that a court may take judicial notice of its own records in prior cases ( see Matter of Allen v. Strough, 301 A.D.2d 11, 18, 752 N.Y.S.2d 339; New York State Dam Ltd. Partnership v. Niagara Mohawk Power Corp., 222 A.D.2d 792, 794 n*, 634 N.Y.S.2d 830; Sam & Mary Hous. Corp. v. Jo/Sal Mkt.Corp., 100 A.D.2d 901, 902, 474 N.Y.S.2d 786; People v. Singleton, 36 A.D.2d 725, 318 N.Y.S.2d 818).

While the words “higher court” were not used in this instance, as they were in Lopez and Torres, reference was made to the Appellate Division, Second Department, which is a higher court, and the one to which the defendant would have had the right to appeal directly had he not waived his right to appeal. There is no distinction between the two references. Nevertheless, the dissent posits that a nonlawyer would not understand what the

[976 N.Y.S.2d 208]

right to appeal to the Appellate Division would mean. But, the defendant in this case was 27 years old and “no stranger to the criminal justice system” (People v. Korona, 197 A.D.2d 788, 790, 603 N.Y.S.2d 88; People v. Graham, 177 A.D.2d 505, 506, 575 N.Y.S.2d 715), having multiple prior convictions, including a federal conviction and a New York state felony conviction, the latter of which resulted in his being adjudicated a second violent felony offender. The age, experience, and background of the defendant all support the County Court's determination that he understood his appellate rights ( see People v. Arias, 100 A.D.3d 914, 953 N.Y.S.2d 892). Contrary to the dissent's suggestion, our conclusion that the defendant understood the nature of the right to appeal, in part, based on his background, is not speculative. The Court of Appeals has explicitly permitted the consideration of a defendant's background ( see People v. Bradshaw, 18 N.Y.3d at 260, 938 N.Y.S.2d 254, 961 N.E.2d 645; People v. Seaberg, 74 N.Y.2d at 11, 543 N.Y.S.2d 968, 541 N.E.2d 1022), and where, as here, the defendant is 27 years old and has multiple prior convictions, a court may fairly infer that he understands what it means to have the right to appeal to the Appellate Division, Second Department ( see People v. Griffin, 195 A.D.2d 766, 767, 600 N.Y.S.2d 375). Notably, in this case, the defendant exercised that right by filing, pro se, with this Court, a notice of appeal and requesting the appointment of counsel.

Accordingly, since the defendant validly waived his right to appeal, appellate review of the denial of his suppression motion is precluded, and the judgment must be affirmed.

RIVERA, J.P., CHAMBERS and LOTT, JJ., concur.

HALL, J., dissents, and votes to reverse the judgment and grant that branch of the defendant's omnibus motion which was to suppress his statements to law enforcement officials.

I respectfully dissent from the majority's determination, first, because I find that the defendant did not validly waive his right to appeal. Additionally, in my view, the defendant did not knowingly, intelligently, and voluntarily waive his right to seek appellate review of the hearing court's suppression ruling. Furthermore, I believe that the hearing court erred in failing to suppress certain statements made by the defendant to law enforcement officials.

In People v. Lopez, 6 N.Y.3d 248, 811 N.Y.S.2d 623, 844 N.E.2d 1145, the Court of Appeals expressed that “[b]ecause only a few reviewable issues survive a valid appeal waiver, it is all the more important for trial courts to ensure that defendants understand what they are surrendering when they waive the right to appeal. Giving up the right to appeal is not a perfunctory step” (id. at 256, 811 N.Y.S.2d 623, 844 N.E.2d 1145).

Thus, a waiver of the right to appeal is effective only so long as the record establishes that it was made knowingly, intelligently, and voluntarily ( see People v. Bradshaw, 18 N.Y.3d 257, 264, 938 N.Y.S.2d 254, 961 N.E.2d 645; People v. Lopez, 6 N.Y.3d at 256, 811 N.Y.S.2d 623, 844 N.E.2d 1145; People v. Calvi, 89 N.Y.2d 868, 871, 653 N.Y.S.2d 89, 675 N.E.2d 843). “An appellate waiver meets this standard when a defendant has ‘a full appreciation of the consequences' of such waiver” (People v. Bradshaw, 18 N.Y.3d at 264, 938 N.Y.S.2d 254, 961 N.E.2d 645, quoting People v. Seaberg, 74 N.Y.2d 1, 11, 543 N.Y.S.2d 968, 541 N.E.2d 1022). For instance, a defendant must comprehend that an appeal waiver “is separate and distinct

[976 N.Y.S.2d 209]

from those rights automatically forfeited upon a plea of guilty”...

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28 practice notes
  • People v. Brown,
    • United States
    • New York Supreme Court Appellate Division
    • September 10, 2014
    ...at 283, 590 N.Y.S.2d 46, 604 N.E.2d 108 ; People v. Seaberg, 74 N.Y.2d at 11, 543 N.Y.S.2d 968, 541 N.E.2d 1022 ; People v. Sanders, 112 A.D.3d 748, 976 N.Y.S.2d 205 ; 992 N.Y.S.2d 303 People v. Charles S., 102 A.D.3d 896, 961 N.Y.S.2d 197 ). Thus, applications of general principles in this......
  • Reaves v. Superintendent, 16-cv-2221 (BMC)
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of New York)
    • June 15, 2016
    ...Court's delay in discharging a juror who expressed concerns that may have affected her ability to be fair and impartial." Reaves, 112 A.D.3d at 748, 976 N.Y.S.2d at 230. 2. Analysis There are two reasons why I cannot review the merits of petitioner's claim. First, as presented to the Appell......
  • People v. Hutter, 2014-08591, Ind. No. 2661-13.
    • United States
    • New York Supreme Court Appellate Division
    • October 11, 2017
    ...raised in his pro se supplemental brief (see People v. Lopez, 6 N.Y.3d at 256, 811 N.Y.S.2d 623, 844 N.E.2d 1145 ; People v. Sanders, 112 A.D.3d 748, 976 N.Y.S.2d 205, affd. 25 N.Y.3d 337, 12 N.Y.S.3d 593, 34 N.E.3d 344...
  • People v. Haywood
    • United States
    • New York Supreme Court Appellate Division
    • November 12, 2014
    ...that the judgment is affirmed. Contrary to the defendant's contention, he validly waived his right to appeal ( see People v. Sanders, 112 A.D.3d 748, 976 N.Y.S.2d 205, lv granted 22 N.Y.3d 1160, 984 N.Y.S.2d 644, 7 N.E.3d 1132; People v. Arias, 100 A.D.3d 914, 953 N.Y.S.2d 892; People v. Go......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
28 cases
  • People v. Brown,
    • United States
    • New York Supreme Court Appellate Division
    • September 10, 2014
    ...at 283, 590 N.Y.S.2d 46, 604 N.E.2d 108 ; People v. Seaberg, 74 N.Y.2d at 11, 543 N.Y.S.2d 968, 541 N.E.2d 1022 ; People v. Sanders, 112 A.D.3d 748, 976 N.Y.S.2d 205 ; 992 N.Y.S.2d 303 People v. Charles S., 102 A.D.3d 896, 961 N.Y.S.2d 197 ). Thus, applications of general principles in this......
  • Reaves v. Superintendent, 16-cv-2221 (BMC)
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of New York)
    • June 15, 2016
    ...Court's delay in discharging a juror who expressed concerns that may have affected her ability to be fair and impartial." Reaves, 112 A.D.3d at 748, 976 N.Y.S.2d at 230. 2. Analysis There are two reasons why I cannot review the merits of petitioner's claim. First, as presented to the Appell......
  • People v. Hutter, 2014-08591, Ind. No. 2661-13.
    • United States
    • New York Supreme Court Appellate Division
    • October 11, 2017
    ...raised in his pro se supplemental brief (see People v. Lopez, 6 N.Y.3d at 256, 811 N.Y.S.2d 623, 844 N.E.2d 1145 ; People v. Sanders, 112 A.D.3d 748, 976 N.Y.S.2d 205, affd. 25 N.Y.3d 337, 12 N.Y.S.3d 593, 34 N.E.3d 344...
  • People v. Haywood
    • United States
    • New York Supreme Court Appellate Division
    • November 12, 2014
    ...that the judgment is affirmed. Contrary to the defendant's contention, he validly waived his right to appeal ( see People v. Sanders, 112 A.D.3d 748, 976 N.Y.S.2d 205, lv granted 22 N.Y.3d 1160, 984 N.Y.S.2d 644, 7 N.E.3d 1132; People v. Arias, 100 A.D.3d 914, 953 N.Y.S.2d 892; People v. Go......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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