People v. Williamson

Decision Date18 December 1991
Citation588 N.E.2d 68,79 N.Y.2d 799,580 N.Y.S.2d 170
Parties, 588 N.E.2d 68 The PEOPLE of the State of New York, Respondent, v. Edward WILLIAMSON, Appellant.
CourtNew York Court of Appeals Court of Appeals
OPINION OF THE COURT MEMORANDUM.

The order of the Appellate Division should be reversed and the case remitted to Supreme Court, Bronx County, for further proceedings in accordance with this memorandum.

Defendant was charged with first degree robbery arising out of a knifepoint street encounter in The Bronx. The complainant identified him out of a photo array. At a hearing to determine whether a Wade hearing was required, the complainant testified that prior to the robbery she had seen the defendant more than 10 times in the bodega where she worked, and had seen him more than 20 times in the neighborhood where they both lived. The court cut off cross-examination of the complainant in several relevant respects, and concluded that the photo identification was confirmatory, that CPL 710.30 notice was not required, and that there was no evidence of impermissible suggestiveness by the police.

Defendant was convicted after a jury trial, and the Appellate Division affirmed the judgment, finding that although the curtailment of cross-examination was error, the complainant's testimony sufficiently established the confirmatory nature of the photo identification (161 A.D.2d 489, 555 N.Y.S.2d 756).

We agree that it was error to restrict cross-examination under these circumstances, because once the complainant was called as a witness for the People at the hearing, defendant had the right to cross-examine her (contrast, People v. Chipp, 75 N.Y.2d 327, 553 N.Y.S.2d 72, 552 N.E.2d 608). Unlike the Appellate Division, however, we conclude that the error requires a reversal. The issue central to the hearing was the extent of the complainant's prior familiarity with the defendant and that issue became crucial at trial in this single-witness identification case. Thus, the preclusion of an adequate opportunity to cross-examine on that key issue eliminated any supportable basis upon which to find that the photo identification was the product of prior familiarity and, therefore, merely confirmatory (see, People v. Newball, 76 N.Y.2d 587, 561 N.Y.S.2d 898, 563 N.E.2d 269...

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28 cases
  • Zimmerman v. Burge
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Eastern District of New York
    • June 25, 2007
    ...are not to the contrary. People v. Rodriguez, 79 N.Y.2d 445, 583 N.Y.S.2d 814, 593 N.E.2d 268 (1992), and People v. Williamson, 79 N.Y.2d 799, 580 N.Y.S.2d 170, 588 N.E.2d 68 (1991), only concern the question of whether there was sufficient familiarity between an identifying witness and a d......
  • People v. Wortham
    • United States
    • New York Court of Appeals Court of Appeals
    • November 23, 2021
    ...N.E.2d 1149 [2013] ; People v. Hightower, 85 N.Y.2d 988, 990, 629 N.Y.S.2d 164, 652 N.E.2d 910 [1995] ; People v. Williamson, 79 N.Y.2d 799, 801, 580 N.Y.S.2d 170, 588 N.E.2d 68 [1991] ; People v. Millan, 69 N.Y.2d 514, 521–522, 516 N.Y.S.2d 168, 508 N.E.2d 903 [1987] ; People v. Coleman, 5......
  • People v. Bello
    • United States
    • New York Supreme Court — Appellate Division
    • September 18, 1995
    ...that are merely confirmatory (see, People v. Wharton, 74 N.Y.2d 921, 550 N.Y.S.2d 260, 549 N.E.2d 462; People v. Williamson, 79 N.Y.2d 799, 580 N.Y.S.2d 170, 588 N.E.2d 68; People v. Tas, 51 N.Y.2d 915, 434 N.Y.S.2d 978, 415 N.E.2d 967), viewings that are not police arranged (see, People v.......
  • People v. Sampson
    • United States
    • New York Supreme Court
    • January 6, 1997
    ...in his attorney's affirmation denied knowing or having a prior familiarity with the witness; see also People v. Williamson, 79 N.Y.2d 799, 580 N.Y.S.2d 170, 588 N.E.2d 68). Thus, under normal circumstances, at least a Rodriguez Hearing would be required in this As has been indicated, the ci......
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1 books & journal articles
  • Policing the police: the role of the courts and the prosecution.
    • United States
    • Fordham Urban Law Journal Vol. 32 No. 2, March 2005
    • March 1, 2005
    ...prosecution's witnesses at a suppression hearing, see generally People v. Edwards, 741 N.E.2d 876 (N.Y. 2000), and People v. Williamson, 588 N.E.2d 68 (N.Y. (101.) The prosecution has the burden of going forward with evidence that shows a constitutional basis for the arrest. See People v. P......

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