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People v. Durst

Criminal Court of the City of New York, New York County

December 16, 2013

The People of the State of New York
v.
Robert Durst, Defendant

Unpublished Opinion

For Defendant: Pryor Cashman LLP by Steven Rabinowitz, Esq.

For the People: Cyrus R. Vance, Jr., New York County District Attorney, by A.D.A. Lawrence Newman

STEVEN M. STATSINGER, Judge of the Criminal Court

Defendant, charged with Trespass (Penal Law § 140.05), moves to dismiss the Information as facially insufficient, asserting that the trespass it alleges is "de minimis, " and that the stay-away order that prompted the charge of trespass was too vague and remote in time to give the defendant sufficient notice. [1] For the reasons discussed below, the Court DENIES the motion to dismiss.

Defendant also moves for discovery and for recision or modification of the temporary orders of protection entered at arraignment. As to these motions, the motion for discovery is DENIED as moot, since the People have by now complied with their discovery obligation. The motions with respect to the orders of protection are also DENIED.

A. FACTUAL BACKGROUND

1. The Allegations

According to the accusatory instrument, Douglas Durst and the Durst Organization own three residences located on the block of West 43rd Street between Ninth and Tenth Avenues in Manhattan; specifically, 413 West 43rd Street, 441 West 43rd Street, and 443 West 43rd Street. On or about April 17, 2012, Dominick Manzi, a former New York City Police Officer employed as an agent of the Durst Organization, discovered the defendant crouched behind a tree on that block. Manzi identified himself and told the defendant that he "was to have no contact with" members of the Durst family and "that he was not allowed on their property."

On or about June 2, 2013, Manzi reviewed security footage from the above-described buildings and saw that, on that date, defendant walked by the buildings "peering at the security cameras located at each one, " and that defendant also "walked up the exterior stairs" of 413 West 43rd Street without permission or authority.

2. Legal Proceedings

On August 16, 2013, defendant was arraigned on an Information - the accusatory instrument was sworn out by an investigator from the District Attorney's office, but the People simultaneously filed the Supporting Deposition of Dominick Manzi - charging the defendant with one count of Trespass, in violation of Penal Law § 140.05. The Court set $5, 000 bail, which defendant immediately posted, and adjourned the case to October 15, 2013, for trial. In addition, after hearing from the parties, the Court entered orders of protection in favor of some 13 members of the Durst family.

Defendant filed the instant motion off-calendar on September 30, 2013, and the People filed their response and a VDF in court on October 15; they had already turned over to the defense a copy of the video surveillance referred to in the Information.

On October 15, 2013, the Court heard oral argument on the motion to dismiss and reserved decision.

B. DISCUSSION

I. THE MOTION TO DISMISS

The Information alleges that in April of 2012, an agent of the Durst family and organization told the defendant that he was not allowed on their property, but that in June of 2013, defendant was captured on video walking up the stairs of a residential property that the Durst family owned. Since the Information sufficiently alleges both that defendant ...


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