People v. Seaberg

CourtNew York Court of Appeals
Writing for the CourtSIMONS; WACHTLER
Citation543 N.Y.S.2d 968,74 N.Y.2d 1,541 N.E.2d 1022
Decision Date15 June 1989
Parties, 541 N.E.2d 1022, 58 USLW 2016 The PEOPLE of the State of New York, Respondent, v. Alan R. SEABERG, Appellant. The PEOPLE of the State of New York, Respondent, v. Darrell SMITH, Appellant.

Page 968

543 N.Y.S.2d 968
74 N.Y.2d 1, 541 N.E.2d 1022, 58 USLW 2016
The PEOPLE of the State of New York, Respondent,
v.
Alan R. SEABERG, Appellant.
The PEOPLE of the State of New York, Respondent,
v.
Darrell SMITH, Appellant.
Court of Appeals of New York.
June 15, 1989.

[74 N.Y.2d 3]

Page 969

[541 N.E.2d 1023] Scott M. Karson, for appellant in the first above-entitled action.

[74 N.Y.2d 4] Patrick Henry, Dist. Atty. (Glenn Green, Riverhead, of counsel), for respondent in the first above-entitled action.

Andrea Hirsch and Philip L. Weinstein, New York City, for appellant in the second above-entitled action.

[74 N.Y.2d 5] Elizabeth Holtzman, Dist. Atty. (Andrew J. Frisch, New York City, and Barbara D. Underwood, Brooklyn, of counsel), for respondent in the second above-entitled action.

Jonathan E. Gradess, Wynantskill, and Michael J. Sexton, Poughkeepsie, for New York State Defenders Ass'n, amicus curiae in the second above-entitled action.

OPINION OF THE COURT

SIMONS, Judge.

These appeals question whether criminal defendants may waive their rights to appeal as part of a negotiated sentence or plea bargain. In People v. Smith, defendant waived his right to appeal as part of a bargained plea entered before trial. In People v. Seaberg, defendant waived his right to appeal a judgment entered on a jury verdict in exchange for a favorable sentence. Defendants maintain that such waivers are invalid per se. Defendant Seaberg also contends that even if such waivers are valid, his should not be enforced because it was involuntary. We hold that the right to appeal may be waived as a condition of a sentence or plea bargain and that defendants did so in the cases before us. Accordingly, we affirm the orders of the Appellate Division.

People v. Smith

Defendant Smith was charged with several crimes in two [74 N.Y.2d 6] separate indictments. The first indictment charged him with the crimes of assault in the second degree, reckless endangerment in the first degree and criminal possession of a weapon in the second and third degrees. The second charged him with first degree robbery and grand larceny in the third degree. Before trial, defendant agreed to plead guilty to robbery in the first degree and attempted criminal possession of a weapon in the second degree in satisfaction of all charges and in exchange for consecutive sentences of 2 1/2 to 7 1/2 years for the robbery charge and 1 to 3 years for the weapons charge. As part of the bargain, he agreed to waive his right to appeal and judgment was entered as agreed upon. Notwithstanding the waiver, defendant appealed and asserted that his sentence was excessive. The Appellate Division dismissed the appeal, 142 A.D.2d 195, 535 N.Y.S.2d 732.

People v. Seaberg

Defendant Seaberg was indicted for two counts of operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol, as felonies (see, Vehicle and Traffic Law [former] § 1192[5] [now § 1193(1)(c)]. The first count of the indictment charged him with operation of a vehicle while he had a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .1 or more (Vehicle and Traffic Law § 1192[2]) and the second with operating a motor vehicle while in an intoxicated condition (Vehicle and Traffic Law § 1192[3]. The evidence at trial established that defendant's BAC shortly after arrest was .19%. The jury found defendant guilty of the felony under count 1 of the indictment, and of the lesser included offense of driving while impaired under count 2. At time of sentence the prosecution, noting defendant's four prior alcohol-related driving convictions, recommended that he be given an indeterminate sentence of 1 to 3 years' incarceration. At defendant's request, however, the proceedings were adjourned to determine his eligibility for a rehabilitation program. After

Page 970

defendant was found eligible, the prosecutor, defense counsel and court agreed upon an arrangement whereby the sentence imposed would be a $500 fine and a conditional discharge. The sentence was conditioned upon defendant successfully com [541 N.E.2d 1024] pleting the rehabilitation program. If he failed to do so, he was to receive a sentence of one-year imprisonment. In exchange for this sentence, defendant agreed to waive his right to appeal. Notwithstanding the waiver, defendant subsequently appealed and asserted several trial errors which he claimed warranted reversal. The Appellate Division dismissed the appeal, 139 A.D.2d 53, 530 N.Y.S.2d 278.

[74 N.Y.2d 7] Plea bargaining is now established as a vital part of our criminal justice system. Indeed, as we recognized years ago, the volume of criminal prosecutions is so great that if full trials were required in each case New York's law enforcement system would collapse (see, People v. Selikoff, 35 N.Y.2d 227, 233, 360 N.Y.S.2d 623, 318 N.E.2d 784 cert. denied 419 U.S. 1122, 95 S.Ct. 806, 42 L.Ed.2d 822). Certainly nothing has happened since then to cause us to change that observation. The judicial acceptance of plea bargaining, however, rests upon broader policy considerations. In addition to permitting a substantial conservation of prosecutorial and judicial resources, it provides a means where, by mutual concessions, the parties may obtain a prompt resolution of criminal proceedings with all the benefits that enure from final disposition. The plea bargain, or negotiated sentence, enables the parties to avoid the delay and uncertainties of trial and appeal and permits swift and certain punishment of law violators with sentences tailored to the circumstances of the case at hand (see generally, Santobello v. New York, 404 U.S. 257, 261, 92 S.Ct. 495, 498, 30 L.Ed.2d 427; People v. Selikoff, 35 N.Y.2d 227, 233-235, 360 N.Y.S.2d 623, 318 N.E.2d 784, supra ). The pleading process necessarily includes the surrender of many guaranteed rights but when there is no constitutional or statutory mandate and no public policy prohibiting it, an accused may waive any right which he or she enjoys (Schick v. United States, 195 U.S. 65, 72, 24 S.Ct. 826, 828, 49 L.Ed. 99).

In New York the right to an initial appeal is provided by statute (see, CPL 450.10; see, People v. De Jesus, 54 N.Y.2d 447, 449, 446 N.Y.S.2d 201, 430 N.E.2d 1254; Matter of State of New York v. King, 36 N.Y.2d 59, 63, 364 N.Y.S.2d 879, 324 N.E.2d 351; cf., People v. Pollenz, 67 N.Y.2d 264, 502 N.Y.S.2d 417, 493 N.E.2d 541). While important, it is no more fundamental than the right to a jury trial or the privilege against self-incrimination, and courts uniformly recognize waivers of those rights. Moreover, as a practical matter, defendants frequently lose their right to appeal, by forfeit, when they fail to exercise it or abscond. The question is whether something inheres in a defendant's right to appeal from a judgment of conviction which makes an express waiver of it an unacceptable condition of a sentence or plea bargain.

We have not directly passed on the issue, but we have enforced a waiver of the right to appeal a suppression ruling (People v. Williams, 36 N.Y.2d 829, 370 N.Y.S.2d 904, 331 N.E.2d 684, cert. denied 423 U.S. 873, 96 S.Ct. 141, 46 L.Ed.2d 104; and see, People v. Esajerre, 35 N.Y.2d 463, 363 N.Y.S.2d 931, 323 N.E.2d 175; People v. Irizarry, 32 A.D.2d 967, 303 N.Y.S.2d 332, affd. 27 N.Y.2d 856, 317 N.Y.S.2d 15, 265 N.E.2d 540; People v. Stephens, 52 N.Y. 306), and we have indicated that the right to appeal a sentence may be waived (see, People v. Thompson, 60 N.Y.2d 513, 520, 470 N.Y.S.2d 551, 458 N.E.2d 1228). Those views are consistent with the statements contained in our [74 N.Y.2d 8] forfeiture decisions that bargains fairly made should signal an end to litigation, not a beginning (see, e.g., People v. Prescott, 66 N.Y.2d 216, 220, 495 N.Y.S.2d 955, 486 N.E.2d 813,...

To continue reading

Request your trial
1272 practice notes
  • Rowe v. Miller, No. 02 Civ.2898(LAK).
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. Southern District of New York
    • January 14, 2004
    ...(2d Cir.2000). 21. Jones v. Stinson, 229 F.3d 112, 119 (2d Cir.2000) (quoting Francis S., 221 F.3d at 111). 22. E.g., People v. Seaberg, 74 N.Y.2d 1, 11, 543 N.Y.S.2d 968, 972, 541 N.E.2d 1022 23. Respondent points out that petitioner did not identify the source of this erroneous advice to ......
  • People v. Sanders
    • United States
    • New York Supreme Court Appellate Division
    • December 11, 2013
    ...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 w......
  • People v. Tiger, No. 62
    • United States
    • New York Court of Appeals
    • June 14, 2018
    ...persons to plead guilty out of necessity. Because of this societal interest, a defendant may not waive such claims" ( People v. Seaberg , 74 N.Y.2d 1, 9, 543 N.Y.S.2d 968, 541 N.E.2d 1022 [1989] [emphasis added] ). We should not foreclose the possibility that other factors in our criminal j......
  • Schiferle v. Capital Fence Co.
    • United States
    • New York Supreme Court Appellate Division
    • October 6, 2017
    ...N.Y.2d 364, 373–377, 660 N.Y.S.2d 827, 683 N.E.2d 733 ). A criminal defendant may waive his or her right to appeal (see People v. Seaberg, 74 N.Y.2d 1, 5, 543 N.Y.S.2d 968, 541 N.E.2d 1022 ). One court even permitted 155 A.D.3d 131a capital defendant to waive his right to present the mitiga......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
1272 cases
  • Rowe v. Miller, No. 02 Civ.2898(LAK).
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. Southern District of New York
    • January 14, 2004
    ...(2d Cir.2000). 21. Jones v. Stinson, 229 F.3d 112, 119 (2d Cir.2000) (quoting Francis S., 221 F.3d at 111). 22. E.g., People v. Seaberg, 74 N.Y.2d 1, 11, 543 N.Y.S.2d 968, 972, 541 N.E.2d 1022 23. Respondent points out that petitioner did not identify the source of this erroneous advice to ......
  • People v. Sanders
    • United States
    • New York Supreme Court Appellate Division
    • December 11, 2013
    ...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 w......
  • People v. Tiger, No. 62
    • United States
    • New York Court of Appeals
    • June 14, 2018
    ...persons to plead guilty out of necessity. Because of this societal interest, a defendant may not waive such claims" ( People v. Seaberg , 74 N.Y.2d 1, 9, 543 N.Y.S.2d 968, 541 N.E.2d 1022 [1989] [emphasis added] ). We should not foreclose the possibility that other factors in our criminal j......
  • Schiferle v. Capital Fence Co.
    • United States
    • New York Supreme Court Appellate Division
    • October 6, 2017
    ...N.Y.2d 364, 373–377, 660 N.Y.S.2d 827, 683 N.E.2d 733 ). A criminal defendant may waive his or her right to appeal (see People v. Seaberg, 74 N.Y.2d 1, 5, 543 N.Y.S.2d 968, 541 N.E.2d 1022 ). One court even permitted 155 A.D.3d 131a capital defendant to waive his right to present the mitiga......
  • 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