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People v. Sougou

Court of Appeals of New York.
Nov 24, 2015
2015 N.Y. Slip Op. 8617 (N.Y. 2015)

Summary

In Sougou (26 NY3d at 1055), the judge directly addressed the defendant on the record and "asked specifically whether defendant had discussed the plea and the sentence, as described in open court, with his lawyer; whether defendant was pleading voluntarily and of his own free will; and whether defendant understood that he was giving up his right to a trial and to hearings on the search and seizure evidence.

Summary of this case from People v. Barry

Opinion

11-24-2015

The PEOPLE of the State of New York, Respondent, v. Mactar SOUGOU, Appellant. The People of the State of New York, Respondent, v. Rita Thompson, Appellant.

The Legal Aid Society, New York City (Harold V. Ferguson, Jr., of counsel), for appellant in the first above-entitled action. Cyrus R. Vance, Jr., District Attorney, New York City (Alan Gadlin and Hilary Hassler of counsel), for respondent in the first above-entitled action. The Legal Aid Society, New York City (Harold V. Ferguson, Jr., of counsel), for appellant in the second above-entitled action. Cyrus R. Vance, Jr., District Attorney, New York City (Manu Balachandran and Alan Gadlin of counsel), for respondent in the second above-entitled action.


The Legal Aid Society, New York City (Harold V. Ferguson, Jr., of counsel), for appellant in the first above-entitled action.

Cyrus R. Vance, Jr., District Attorney, New York City (Alan Gadlin and Hilary Hassler of counsel), for respondent in the first above-entitled action.

The Legal Aid Society, New York City (Harold V. Ferguson, Jr., of counsel), for appellant in the second above-entitled action.

Cyrus R. Vance, Jr., District Attorney, New York City (Manu Balachandran and Alan Gadlin of counsel), for respondent in the second above-entitled action.

OPINION OF THE COURT

MEMORANDUM.

The orders of the Appellate Term should be affirmed.

In each of these appeals defendants contend that their respective plea allocutions were insufficient as a matter of law to establish that they pleaded guilty knowingly and intelligently (see Boykin v. Alabama, 395 U.S. 238, 243, 89 S.Ct. 1709, 23 L.Ed.2d 274 [1969] ; People v. Harris, 61 N.Y.2d 9, 18, 471 N.Y.S.2d 61, 459 N.E.2d 170 [1983] ). We disagree and conclude that, in each case, the plea proceeding manifests a constitutionally adequate waiver.

As a preliminary matter, we reject the People's contention that defendants' claims are unpreserved and find People v. Tyrell, 22 N.Y.3d 359, 981 N.Y.S.2d 336, 4 N.E.3d 346 (2013) dispositive on this issue. As in Tyrell, both defendants pleaded guilty and were sentenced at the same proceeding, and the errors were clear from the face of the record. As a consequence, preservation poses no bar to our review of defendants' challenges to their guilty pleas (id. at 364, 981 N.Y.S.2d 336, 4 N.E.3d 346 ).

Turning to the merits, we begin with the established constitutional principle that a guilty plea must be "entered voluntarily, knowingly and intelligently" (People v. Haffiz, 19 N.Y.3d 883, 884, 951 N.Y.S.2d 690, 976 N.E.2d 216 [2012] ; see

Tyrell, 22 N.Y.3d at 365, 981 N.Y.S.2d 336, 4 N.E.3d 346 ; People v. Harris, 61 N.Y.2d 9, 17–18, 471 N.Y.S.2d 61, 459 N.E.2d 170 [1983] ). A valid plea encompasses a waiver of the right to trial by jury, the privilege against compulsory self-incrimination, and the right to confront one's accusers (Boykin, 395 U.S. at 243, 89 S.Ct. 1709 ; Harris, 61 N.Y.2d at 18, 471 N.Y.S.2d 61, 459 N.E.2d 170 ). However, this Court has rejected the requirement that the trial judge must enumerate all the rights waived during the course of the plea allocution (Harris, 61 N.Y.2d at 18, 471 N.Y.S.2d 61, 459 N.E.2d 170 ; Tyrell, 22 N.Y.3d at 365, 981 N.Y.S.2d 336, 4 N.E.3d 346 ). Nevertheless, "the Trial Judge has a vital responsibility ‘to make sure [that the accused] has full understanding of what the plea connotes and of its consequence[s]’ " (Harris, 61 N.Y.2d at 19, 471 N.Y.S.2d 61, 459 N.E.2d 170, citing Boykin, 395 U.S. at 244, 89 S.Ct. 1709 ). Of course, a trial judge may discharge this duty by direct inquiry of the defendant, but, as we recognized in Tyrell, a valid waiver can be established "where the record shows that the defendant consulted with [defendant's] attorney about the constitutional consequences of a guilty plea" (22 N.Y.3d at 365, 981 N.Y.S.2d 336, 4 N.E.3d 346, citing North Carolina v. Alford, 400 U.S. 25, 29 n. 3, 91 S.Ct. 160, 27 L.Ed.2d 162 [1970], and Hanson v. Phillips, 442 F.3d 789, 801 [2d Cir.2006] ).

A court determining the voluntariness of a plea must review the record as a whole and the circumstances of the plea in its totality (Harris, 61 N.Y.2d at 19, 471 N.Y.S.2d 61, 459 N.E.2d 170 ). Indeed, " ‘the voluntariness of [a] plea can be determined only by considering all of the relevant circumstances surrounding it’ " (Harris, 61 N.Y.2d at 19, 471 N.Y.S.2d 61, 459 N.E.2d 170 [emphasis omitted], quoting Brady v. United States, 397 U.S. 742, 749, 90 S.Ct. 1463, 25 L.Ed.2d 747 [1970] ). Here, the records in the instant appeals demonstrate that defendants' pleas were "knowing, voluntary and intelligent" and constitute valid waivers of their constitutional rights.

In Sougou , defendant pleaded guilty to unlicensed general vending (Administrative Code of City of N.Y. § 20–453 ), a misdemeanor. The court sentenced defendant to a conditional discharge, with three days of community service, and required that he not be arrested for one year, or risk 90 days' jail time as an alternative sentence.

During the plea, defense counsel stated initially that defendant authorized him to enter a guilty plea for violating section 20–453, and that he had discussed with defendant that any arrests during the conditional discharge period would place defendant at risk of arrest and 90 days' jail time. The judge then directly addressed defendant and asked specifically whether defendant had discussed the plea and the sentence, as described in open court, with his lawyer; whether defendant was pleading voluntarily and of his own free will; and whether defendant understood that he was giving up his right to a trial and to hearings on the search and seizure evidence. Defendant answered "yes" to each and every question. The record thus affirmatively demonstrates that defendant understood the consequences of his plea, including that he was waiving his right to trial and to challenge evidence against him, and that he discussed both the plea and his sentence with counsel. Therefore, defendant's challenge to the voluntariness of the plea is without merit (see Harris, 61 N.Y.2d at 20–21, 471 N.Y.S.2d 61, 459 N.E.2d 170 [holding that waivers in People v. Ramsey and People v. Alicea were valid where the judges advised the defendants of their right to trial, discussed the

plea consequences with defendant, and defendant affirmed that the plea was voluntary] ).

In Thompson , defendant pleaded guilty to harassment in the second degree (Penal Law § 240.26 ), a violation, and the court sentenced her to time served and imposed a two-year order of protection. At the plea proceeding, counsel stated that she was authorized to enter a plea of guilty on defendant's behalf to harassment in the second degree. The judge addressed defendant and asked whether she wanted to enter a plea of guilty to harassment, a violation and not a crime, and whether she understood that by pleading guilty she was giving up her right to trial. Defendant responded affirmatively to the court's inquiries, and also stated that no one had forced her to enter the plea.

Based on our review of the record, we conclude that the court's inquiry and defendant's responses establish that defendant waived her right to trial and fully comprehended the plea. Indeed, defense counsel emphasized "to be very clear for" defendant, that the plea was to "a violation not a crime. It will not add to her criminal record." Defendant thus understood that by pleading guilty she avoided any further enhancement of her existing criminal record. Granted, the plea proceeding was succinct, but, unlike Tyrell, the record was not silent, and the substance of the plea colloquy is at least equivalent to that of the pleas this Court upheld in People v. Ramsey and People v. Alicea , two of the cases decided along with Harris, 61 N.Y.2d at 20–21, 471 N.Y.S.2d 61, 459 N.E.2d 170.

Chief Judge LIPPMAN and Judges PIGOTT, RIVERA, ABDUS–SALAAM, STEIN and FAHEY concur.

In each case: On review of submissions pursuant to section 500.11 of the Rules of the Court of Appeals (22 NYCRR 500.11 ), order affirmed, in a memorandum.


Summaries of

People v. Sougou

Court of Appeals of New York.
Nov 24, 2015
2015 N.Y. Slip Op. 8617 (N.Y. 2015)

In Sougou (26 NY3d at 1055), the judge directly addressed the defendant on the record and "asked specifically whether defendant had discussed the plea and the sentence, as described in open court, with his lawyer; whether defendant was pleading voluntarily and of his own free will; and whether defendant understood that he was giving up his right to a trial and to hearings on the search and seizure evidence.

Summary of this case from People v. Barry
Case details for

People v. Sougou

Case Details

Full title:The PEOPLE of the State of New York, Respondent, v. Mactar SOUGOU…

Court:Court of Appeals of New York.

Date published: Nov 24, 2015

Citations

2015 N.Y. Slip Op. 8617 (N.Y. 2015)
23 N.Y.S.3d 121
44 N.E.3d 196
2015 N.Y. Slip Op. 8617

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