People v. Virga

CourtNew York Supreme Court
Writing for the CourtTHOMASDICKENS
Citation262 N.Y.S.2d 879,47 Misc.2d 572
PartiesThe PEOPLE of the State of New York, v. John VIRGA, Petitioner.
Decision Date25 May 1965

Page 879

262 N.Y.S.2d 879
47 Misc.2d 572
The PEOPLE of the State of New York,
John VIRGA, Petitioner.
Supreme Court, Special and Trial Term, New York County, Part XXX.
May 25, 1965.

Page 880

Frank S. Hogan, Dist. Atty., for the People.

Maurice Edelbaum, New York City, for defendant.


The inspiration that has seemingly induced the inauguration of this formal coram nobis application in an attack on the judgment of conviction herein as being founded in part on alleged illegal admissions, stems from the ruling made by the Court of Appeals in People v. Huntley, 15 N.Y.2d 72, 255 N.Y.S.2d 838, 204 N.E.2d 179, as the result of the holding in Jackson v. Denno, 378 U.S. 368, 84 S.Ct. 1774, 12 L.Ed.2d 908, with regard to the validity of the confessions by a defendant as a confitens reus.

This appellate ruling now forms the root of the probe into the facts of this case as pertains to the statement of admissions made by defendant. The vital question for answer, based on the oral argument of respective counsel and on their briefs, the calling of witnesses to testify having been waived, is, therefore, this: Did the district attorney, by the use of foul tactics, whether directly or indirectly, obtain the pre-trial admissions, which he had the court reporter read into the evidence at the trial?

Restricted to a diagnosis of the facts and the circumstances relative to the question of the admissions involved here (People v. Loprete, 22 A.D.2d 926, 255 N.Y.S.2d 516), I find that the highlights, in which the

Page 881

admissions under scrutiny have their setting, are in short these: Defendant was arrested by F. B. I. agents on a federal matter and on the same day taken to the United States Court House at Foley Square in Manhattan and allegedly held incommunicado about a week and then released after supplying the F. B. I. agents with an oral statement. Shortly thereafter he was arrested by the New York Police and was charged with the crime of kidnapping. The statement of admissions in question that he made to the district attorney prior to the trial, is substantially[47 Misc.2d 573] of the same tenor as that which he had made to the F. B. I. agents.

An extract from the trial minutes, the extract dealing with answers to the district attorney's questions which are introductory to the defendant's pre-trial statement of admissions of facts, will not be amiss, if set forth right here (p. 653):

'Q. My name is Rosenblum. I am an an Assistant District Attorney in the office of this County, New York District Attorney's office. The man on my right is Mr. Boynton; he is also an Assistant District Attorney. There is Detective Swander and Detective Shields, who are both detectives of the Police Department, My purpose now is to ask you questions concerning the--any participation that you had, any connection you had with any crime which was committed in the County of New York. Do I understand clearly that you are willing to make a voluntary statement and tell me any such things as you know, tell me things truthfully? A. Right.

'Q. You understand that anything you say might be used against you in any future proceeding? A. Yes, sir.

'Q. Are you willing to make to me a truthful, complete and honest statement of your participation in any act which might amount to violation of the State of New York? A. Yes.

'Q. And over which our office has jurisdiction? A. Right.

'Q. And this statement, I assume, is voluntary? A. That is right.' (Emphasis supplied.)

The cornerstone of the present motion apparently rests exclusively upon the effect on the statement of admissions made to the District Attorney, of defendant's alleged charge that the federal agents had used anticonstitutional means in obtaining admissions from him when they had him in their custody. In meaning, and in reality then, defendant holds forth that the oppressive measures employed by the federal agents, had the force of contaminating the admissions made to the District Attorney, although clearly,...

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