People v. Yavru-Sakuk

CourtNew York Court of Appeals
Writing for the CourtLEVINE, J.
Citation98 N.Y.2d 56,745 N.Y.S.2d 787,772 N.E.2d 1145
Decision Date04 June 2002
PartiesTHE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK, Appellant, v. BEDROS YAVRU-SAKUK, Respondent.

98 N.Y.2d 56
772 N.E.2d 1145
745 N.Y.S.2d 787

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK, Appellant,
v.
BEDROS YAVRU-SAKUK, Respondent

Court of Appeals of the State of New York.

Argued April 30, 2002.

Decided June 4, 2002.


98 N.Y.2d 57
Richard A. Brown, District Attorney, Kew Gardens (Vered Adoni and John M. Castellano of counsel), for appellant

Law Offices of Gerald L. Shargel, New York City (Sarita Kedia of counsel), for respondent.

Chief Judge KAYE and Judges SMITH, CIPARICK, WESLEY, ROSENBLATT and GRAFFEO concur.

98 N.Y.2d 58
OPINION OF THE COURT

LEVINE, J.

Defendant, a dentist, was convicted of sexual abuse in the third degree (Penal Law § 130.55) for fondling a 17-year-old girl during an appointment. The issue in this case is whether the loss on appeal of a trial exhibit—a tape recording of a conversation in which defendant responded to the victim's allegations of abuse—warranted summary reversal of defendant's conviction on the ground that the loss deprived the Appellate Term of the ability to conduct any meaningful appellate review.

The complainant testified at a bench trial about the events in question, including that defendant sexually abused her while purportedly treating her teeth. A police investigator also testified that, when this incident was reported to the police several months later, she requested the complainant to call defendant at his office to confront him with the accusations of sexual abuse. A tape recording of that conversation was admitted into evidence. When questioned at trial about the conversation, defendant testified that he was shocked by the allegations and could not freely discuss them at the time of the phone call because of the presence of his dental assistant and a patient. However, he conceded his failure to deny the allegations of physical contact, testifying instead that he had told the complainant that "there is a misunderstanding; there is a mistake. * * * I am sorry for the way you feel, okay" and that "it was not my intent."

The court found defendant guilty and sentenced him to one year probation. At the sentencing hearing, the court noted that defendant's statement on the tape recording "was revealing" and it characterized the recording as "the icing on the cake in this case." Nonetheless, the court emphasized that "there is no doubt in my mind when evaluating the complainant's credibility and the defendant's this was not an even mix by any standard. The complainant impressed me as immeasurably more truthful and sincere than the defendant."

98 N.Y.2d 59
Defendant appealed, primarily arguing that the trial court erred in denying his request to admit certain expert opinion testimony pertaining to a polygraph exam. Defendant also contended that the evidence was legally insufficient because "the only direct evidence that the crime occurred consisted of the complainant's inconsistent and unreliable testimony." He did not assert, however, that the taped telephone conversation was exculpatory, inaccurate or otherwise crucial to guilt or innocence or to any of the other issues he raised on appeal

The Appellate Term reversed, but not on any of the grounds urged by defendant. Rather, noting that the tape recording of the conversation between defendant and the victim had been lost, the court sua sponte determined that proper appellate review was impossible. In reaching this conclusion, the court characterized the tape as "critical" to the trial court's finding of guilt. Because defendant had already served his sentence of probation on this class B misdemeanor, the court dismissed the accusatory instrument, citing People v Flynn (79 NY2d 879 [1992]) and People v West (56 NY2d 637 [1982]). A Judge of this Court granted the People leave to appeal and we now reverse.

We begin with the basic proposition that a defendant has a fundamental right to appellate review of a criminal conviction (see People v Harrison,...

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35 practice notes
  • People v. Maffei, No. 25
    • United States
    • New York Court of Appeals
    • May 7, 2020
    ...on direct appeal is adequate, an appellate court may not avoid consideration of the merits of such claim (see People v. Yavru–Sakuk, 98 N.Y.2d 56, 59–62, 745 N.Y.S.2d 787, 772 N.E.2d 1145 [2002] ; People v. Bachert, 69 N.Y.2d 593, 597–600, 516 N.Y.S.2d 623, 509 N.E.2d 318 [1987] ; see, e.g.......
  • People v. Brown,
    • United States
    • New York Supreme Court Appellate Division
    • September 10, 2014
    ...301 infringement upon his or her liberty, reviewed by an appellate court, is fundamental and significant (see People v. Yavru–Sakuk, 98 N.Y.2d 56, 59, 745 N.Y.S.2d 787, 772 N.E.2d 1145 ; People v. Harrison, 85 N.Y.2d 794, 796, 628 N.Y.S.2d 939, 652 N.E.2d 638 ; People v. Seaberg, 74 N.Y.2d ......
  • Velazquez v. Poole, No. 1:04-cv-00478-ENV-CLP.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of New York)
    • October 30, 2007
    ...(See Petr.'s Mem. at 9-10) (citing People v. Jackson, 98 N.Y.2d 555, 780 N.E.2d 162, 750 N.Y.S.2d 561 (2002); People v. Yavru-Sakuk, 98 N.Y.2d 56, 772 N.E.2d 1145, 745 N.Y.S.2d 787 (2002)).38 Petitioner's allegation that he was deprived of his right to appeal was appropriately exhausted. (S......
  • People v. Batista, 2014–11805
    • United States
    • New York Supreme Court Appellate Division
    • November 7, 2018
    ...justice. In New York, a criminal defendant has the right to appeal from a judgment of conviction and sentence (see People v. Yavru–Sakuk, 98 N.Y.2d 56, 59, 745 N.Y.S.2d 787, 772 N.E.2d 1145 ; People v. Harrison, 85 N.Y.2d 794, 796, 628 N.Y.S.2d 939, 652 N.E.2d 638 ; People v. Brown, 122 A.D......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
35 cases
  • People v. Maffei, No. 25
    • United States
    • New York Court of Appeals
    • May 7, 2020
    ...on direct appeal is adequate, an appellate court may not avoid consideration of the merits of such claim (see People v. Yavru–Sakuk, 98 N.Y.2d 56, 59–62, 745 N.Y.S.2d 787, 772 N.E.2d 1145 [2002] ; People v. Bachert, 69 N.Y.2d 593, 597–600, 516 N.Y.S.2d 623, 509 N.E.2d 318 [1987] ; see, e.g.......
  • People v. Brown,
    • United States
    • New York Supreme Court Appellate Division
    • September 10, 2014
    ...301 infringement upon his or her liberty, reviewed by an appellate court, is fundamental and significant (see People v. Yavru–Sakuk, 98 N.Y.2d 56, 59, 745 N.Y.S.2d 787, 772 N.E.2d 1145 ; People v. Harrison, 85 N.Y.2d 794, 796, 628 N.Y.S.2d 939, 652 N.E.2d 638 ; People v. Seaberg, 74 N.Y.2d ......
  • Velazquez v. Poole, No. 1:04-cv-00478-ENV-CLP.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of New York)
    • October 30, 2007
    ...(See Petr.'s Mem. at 9-10) (citing People v. Jackson, 98 N.Y.2d 555, 780 N.E.2d 162, 750 N.Y.S.2d 561 (2002); People v. Yavru-Sakuk, 98 N.Y.2d 56, 772 N.E.2d 1145, 745 N.Y.S.2d 787 (2002)).38 Petitioner's allegation that he was deprived of his right to appeal was appropriately exhausted. (S......
  • People v. Batista, 2014–11805
    • United States
    • New York Supreme Court Appellate Division
    • November 7, 2018
    ...justice. In New York, a criminal defendant has the right to appeal from a judgment of conviction and sentence (see People v. Yavru–Sakuk, 98 N.Y.2d 56, 59, 745 N.Y.S.2d 787, 772 N.E.2d 1145 ; People v. Harrison, 85 N.Y.2d 794, 796, 628 N.Y.S.2d 939, 652 N.E.2d 638 ; People v. Brown, 122 A.D......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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