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The People of the State of New York v. Norman R. Youmans

SUPREME COURT OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK APPELLATE TERM: 9th and 10th JUDICIAL DISTRICTS


January 20, 2012

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK,
APPELLANT,
v.
NORMAN R. YOUMANS,
RESPONDENT.

Appeal from an order of the Justice Court of the Town of Blooming Grove, Orange County (Stephen J. Smith, J.), entered December 15, 2010.

People v Youmans (Norman)

Appellate Term, Second Department

Published by New York State Law Reporting Bureau pursuant to Judiciary Law § 431.

This opinion is uncorrected and will not be published in the printed Official Reports.

Decided on January 20, 2012

PRESENT: LaCAVA, J.P., NICOLAI and IANNACCI, JJ

The order granted defendant's motion to set aside a jury verdict finding him guilty of operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated.

ORDERED that the order is reversed, on the law, the motion by defendant to set aside the jury verdict is denied, and the matter is remitted to the Justice Court for sentencing.

Following a jury trial, defendant was found guilty of operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated in violation of subdivisions 2 and 3 of Vehicle and Traffic Law section 1192. By order dated August 11, 2009, an oral motion by defendant to set aside the jury verdict was granted by the Justice Court. An appeal therefrom by the People ensued and, by order of this court dated October 21, 2010 (see 30 Misc 3d 133[A], 2010 NY Slip Op 52359[U]), the order dated August 11, 2009 was reversed and the matter remitted to the Justice Court for a new determination of defendant's motion, after affording the People an opportunity to oppose the motion (see CPL 330.40 [1]). Following the submission of papers to the Justice Court by both parties, the court again granted defendant's motion to set aside the jury verdict.

The Justice Court erred in granting defendant's motion to set aside the jury verdict upon what amounted to the court's own independent weighing of the evidence and factual review (People v Goodfriend, 64 NY2d 695, 697 [1984]; People v Carter, 63 NY2d 530 [1984]; People v Pirozzi, 237 AD2d 628 [1997]; see CPL 330.30 [1]). The court predicated its decision on a weighing of the evidence regarding the operation, or lack of operation, by defendant of the vehicle as an essential element of the offense (Vehicle and Traffic Law § 1192 [2], [3]). The proof adduced by the People, however, included testimony of admissions made by defendant that he had been operating the vehicle and evidence that he was present at the scene of the crime charged, his appearance afterward, and other circumstances supporting an inference of his having operated the vehicle and of his guilt of the offenses charged (see id.; People v Booden, 69 NY2d 185 [1987]; People v Kestler, 201 AD2d 955 [1994]). "There was nothing so clearly exculpatory or so inherently contradictory or unbelievable in the People's proof that it could be regarded as insufficient as a matter of law" (Carter, 63 NY2d at 537). "In assessing legal sufficiency, a court must determine whether there is any valid line of reasoning and permissible inferences which could lead a rational person to the conclusion reached by the jury on the basis of the evidence at trial'" (People v Cahill, 2 NY3d 14, 57 [2003], quoting People v Bleakley, 69 NY2d 490, 495 [1987]). Applying this principle to all of the evidence presented, we conclude that the Justice Court should have denied defendant's motion, since the jury verdict was amply supported as a matter of law.

Accordingly, the order is reversed, defendant's motion to set aside the jury verdict is denied and the matter is remitted to the Justice Court for sentencing.

LaCava, J.P., Nicolai and Iannacci, JJ., concur.

Decision Date: January 20, 2012

20120120

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