People
v.
Johnson

Not overruled or negatively treated on appealinfoCoverage
Supreme Court, Appellate Division, Fourth Department, New York.Oct 4, 2011
930 N.Y.S.2d 362 (N.Y. App. Div. 2011)
930 N.Y.S.2d 36288 A.D.3d 12932011 N.Y. Slip Op. 7110

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2011-10-4

The PEOPLE of the State of New York, Respondent,v.Nathaniel JOHNSON, Defendant–Appellant.

The Legal Aid Bureau of Buffalo, Inc., Buffalo (Patrick Sheldon of Counsel), for Defendant–Appellant.Frank A. Sedita, III, District Attorney, Buffalo (Michael J. Hillery of Counsel), for Respondent.


The Legal Aid Bureau of Buffalo, Inc., Buffalo (Patrick Sheldon of Counsel), for Defendant–Appellant.Frank A. Sedita, III, District Attorney, Buffalo (Michael J. Hillery of Counsel), for Respondent.

MEMORANDUM:

Defendant appeals from a judgment convicting him upon a jury verdict of robbery in the first degree (Penal Law § 160.15[4] ). Viewing the evidence in light of the elements of the crime as charged to the jury ( see People v. Danielson, 9 N.Y.3d 342, 349, 849 N.Y.S.2d 480, 880 N.E.2d 1), we reject defendant's contention that the verdict is against the weight of the evidence. The manager of the convenience store that was robbed (hereafter, manager) identified defendant at trial as the person who committed the robbery. The manager also testified that he was able to observe defendant's face when defendant approached the manager before defendant entered the store wearing a “translucent” scarf over his mouth and nose. “Although a different verdict would not have been unreasonable, we conclude that the jury did not fail to give the evidence the weight it should be accorded in rejecting the misidentification theory of the defense” ( People v. Hennings, 55 A.D.3d 1393, 1393, 864 N.Y.S.2d 650, lv. denied 12 N.Y.3d 758, 876 N.Y.S.2d 709, 904 N.E.2d 846; see generally People v. Bleakley, 69 N.Y.2d 490, 495, 515 N.Y.S.2d 761, 508 N.E.2d 672).

We further conclude that Supreme Court properly refused to suppress the testimony of the manager with respect to the photo array in which he identified defendant ( see generally People v. Chipp, 75 N.Y.2d 327, 335–336, 553 N.Y.S.2d 72, 552 N.E.2d 608, cert. denied 498 U.S. 833, 111 S.Ct. 99, 112 L.Ed.2d 70). There is no evidence in the record that the photo array drew the manager's attention to the photograph of defendant or that the identification procedures employed by the police were unduly suggestive ( see People v. McCurty, 60 A.D.3d 1406, 1407, 875 N.Y.S.2d 718 lv. denied 12 N.Y.3d 856, 881 N.Y.S.2d 668, 909 N.E.2d 591). Although the manager signed an affidavit after viewing the photo array in which he stated that the person he identified therein was a “possible robbery suspect,” the police officer who presented the photo array to the manager testified at the Wade hearing that the manager unequivocally and without hesitation identified defendant in the photo array. In addition, the qualified language used by the manager in his affidavit merely mirrored the language used by the officer, who instructed him that the photo array may possibly contain a photograph of the person who committed the robbery. Under the circumstances of this case, we perceive no basis upon which to disturb the court's determination with respect to the identification testimony of the manager.

Defendant further contends that the People committed a Brady violation by withholding exculpatory evidence until after the trial had commenced. As defendant correctly concedes, however, that contention is unpreserved for our review ( see generally People v. Caswell, 56 A.D.3d 1300, 1303, 867 N.Y.S.2d 638, lv. denied 11 N.Y.3d 923, 874 N.Y.S.2d 8, 902 N.E.2d 442, 12 N.Y.3d 781, 879 N.Y.S.2d 58, 906 N.E.2d 1092, cert. denied ––– U.S. ––––, 129 S.Ct. 2775, 174 L.Ed.2d 278). In any event, the alleged Brady violation concerns matters outside the record on appeal and thus may properly be raised by way of a motion pursuant to CPL article 440 ( see People v. Ellis, 73 A.D.3d 1433, 903 N.Y.S.2d 615, lv. denied 15 N.Y.3d 851, 909 N.Y.S.2d 28, 935 N.E.2d 820; see generally People v. Wilson, 49 A.D.3d 1224, 853 N.Y.S.2d 773, lv. denied 10 N.Y.3d 966, 863 N.Y.S.2d 150, 893 N.E.2d 456).

We agree with defendant, however, that the verdict sheet contains an impermissible annotation. The court included the language “an armed felony” in describing the sole count of the indictment, charging defendant with robbery in the first degree, but the record fails to demonstrate that defense counsel consented to the verdict sheet. In People v. Damiano, 87 N.Y.2d 477, 483, 640 N.Y.S.2d 451, 663 N.E.2d 607, the Court of Appeals concluded that, “when the court determines that listing statutory elements or terms of the crime—whether as labels or a shorthand for statutory text—on the verdict sheet will aid the jury in [its] deliberations, the court must permit [defense] counsel to review the annotated verdict sheet and obtain [defense] counsel's consent prior to submitting it to the jury.” “[T]he lack of an objection to the annotated verdict sheet by defense counsel cannot be transmuted into consent” ( id. at 484, 640 N.Y.S.2d 451, 663 N.E.2d 607; see People v. Collins, 99 N.Y.2d 14, 17, 750 N.Y.S.2d 814, 780 N.E.2d 499), and “[t]he submission of [an] annotated verdict sheet, not consented to by [defense] counsel, cannot be deemed harmless” error ( Damiano, 87 N.Y.2d at 485, 640 N.Y.S.2d 451, 663 N.E.2d 607).

We note that Damiano was superseded in part by amendments to CPL 310.20(2) ( see L. 1996, ch. 630, § 2; L. 2002, ch. 588, § 1[2] ), which allow annotated verdict sheets where “the court submits two or more counts” to the jury and only for “the sole purpose of ... distinguish[ing] between the counts.” Here, however, the indictment contained only one count. Those statutory provisions are therefore inapplicable, and the annotation on the verdict sheet was impermissible pursuant to Damiano. We therefore hold the case, reserve decision and remit the matter to Supreme Court to determine, following a hearing if necessary, whether defense counsel consented to the annotated verdict sheet ( see People v. Knight [Appeal No. 1], 274 A.D.2d 957, 710 N.Y.S.2d 827; People v. Ross, 230 A.D.2d 924, 646 N.Y.S.2d 638; People v. Albert, 225 A.D.2d 1097, 639 N.Y.S.2d 766).

Finally, the contention of defendant with respect to the court's responses to the first two jury notes is not preserved for our review ( see CPL 470.05 [2]; People v. Samuels, 24 A.D.3d 1287, 808 N.Y.S.2d 845, lv. denied 7 N.Y.3d 817, 822 N.Y.S.2d 492, 855 N.E.2d 808; People v. Parker, 304 A.D.2d 146, 159, 755 N.Y.S.2d 521, lv. denied 100 N.Y.2d 585, 764 N.Y.S.2d 396, 796 N.E.2d 488), and we decline to exercise our power to review that contention as a matter of discretion in the interest of justice ( see CPL 470.15[6][a] ). We have considered defendant's remaining contentions and conclude that they are without merit.

It is hereby ORDERED that the case is held, the decision is reserved and the matter is remitted to Supreme Court, Erie County, for further proceedings.