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People v. Stevens

Supreme Court of New York, Fourth Department

September 27, 2013

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK, RESPONDENT,
v.
CLAYTON H. STEVENS, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.

Appeal from a judgment of the Onondaga County Court (William D. Walsh, J.), rendered November 10, 2009. The judgment convicted defendant, upon a jury verdict, of driving while intoxicated, a class D felony, unlawful possession of marihuana, failure to wear a seat belt and consumption of alcoholic beverages or possession of an open container containing alcoholic beverages in a motor vehicle.

FRANK H. HISCOCK LEGAL AID SOCIETY, SYRACUSE (PHILIP ROTHSCHILD OF COUNSEL), FOR DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.

WILLIAM J. FITZPATRICK, DISTRICT ATTORNEY, SYRACUSE (MARIA MALDONADO OF COUNSEL), FOR RESPONDENT.

PRESENT: CENTRA, J.P., PERADOTTO, CARNI, AND LINDLEY, JJ.

It is hereby ORDERED that the judgment so appealed from is unanimously affirmed.

Memorandum:

Defendant appeals from a judgment convicting him upon a jury verdict of, inter alia, felony driving while intoxicated (DWI) (Vehicle and Traffic Law §§ 1192 [3]; 1193 [1] [c] [ii]), failure to wear a seat belt (§ 1229-c [3]), and consumption of alcoholic beverages or possession of an open container containing alcoholic beverages in a motor vehicle (§ 1227 [1]). Contrary to the contention of defendant, we conclude that, viewing the evidence in light of the elements of those crimes as charged to the jury (see People v Danielson, 9 N.Y.3d 342, 349), the verdict is not against the weight of the evidence (see generally People v Bleakley, 69 N.Y.2d 490, 495). Although a different result would not have been unreasonable, " [t]he jury was entitled to resolve issues of credibility in favor of the People..., and it cannot be said that the jury failed to give the evidence the weight it should be accorded' " (People v Caver, 56 A.D.3d 1204, 1204, lv denied 12 N.Y.3d 781).

We reject defendant's further contention that County Court failed to fashion an appropriate Sandoval ruling (see People v Sandoval, 34 N.Y.2d 371, 374). We conclude that the court's Sandoval compromise, in which it limited questioning on defendant's prior convictions for DWI-related offenses to whether defendant had been convicted of a felony or misdemeanor on the appropriate date, "reflects a proper exercise of the court's discretion" (People v Thomas, 305 A.D.2d 1099, 1099, lv denied 100 N.Y.2d 600). The court did not abuse its discretion in further permitting specific questioning as to defendant's other convictions, even though they were remote in time (see generally People v Walker, 83 N.Y.2d 455, 458-459).

Defendant failed to preserve for our review his challenge that he was punished for exercising his right to a trial (see People v Carey, 92 A.D.3d 1224, 1225, lv denied 18 N.Y.3d 992; People v Shay, 85 A.D.3d 1708, 1709, lv denied 17 N.Y.3d 822). In any event, we conclude that the contention is without merit (see People v Coapman, 90 A.D.3d 1681, 1684, lv denied 18 N.Y.3d 956; People v Dorn, 71 A.D.3d 1523, 1524). Finally, the sentence is not unduly harsh or severe.


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