People ex rel. Christopher Cassar, on behalf of Jose Medrano, respondent,
Paul J. Margiotta, etc., et al., appellants. Index No. 8346/15
A. Cuthbertson, Huntington, NY, for appellants.
Christopher Cassar, P.C., Huntington, NY, for respondent.
WILLIAM F. MASTRO, J.P., CHERYL E. CHAMBERS, SHERI S. ROMAN,
FRANCESCA E. CONNOLLY, JJ.
DECISION & ORDER
proceeding pursuant to CPLR article 70 for a writ of habeas
corpus, the appeal is from a judgment of the Supreme Court,
Suffolk County (Cohen, J.), dated May 1, 2015, which, after a
hearing, granted the petition and sustained the writ.
that the judgment is reversed, on the law, without costs or
disbursements, the petition is denied, the writ is dismissed,
and the petitioner is directed to surrender himself to the
superintendent of the Suffolk County Correctional Facility.
April 23, 2015, the petitioner was tried, in absentia, by a
hearing officer of the Suffolk County Traffic & Parking
Violations Agency, on charges of unlicensed operation of a
motor vehicle (see Vehicle and Traffic Law §
509) and operation of a motor vehicle while using a cell
phone (see Vehicle and Traffic Law §
1225-c[a]). The petitioner was convicted of both offenses
and was sentenced to, inter alia, a definite sentence of 15
next day, on April 24, 2015, the petitioner and his attorney
appeared before a different hearing officer of the Suffolk
County Traffic & Parking Violations Agency. The
petitioner pleaded guilty to a separate, unrelated, charge of
unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle, and was sentenced to
a definite sentence of 10 days' imprisonment to run
consecutively to the 15-day sentence imposed on April 23,
verified petition dated May 1, 2015, the petitioner commenced
this proceeding for a writ of habeas corpus for his immediate
release on the grounds that, in connection with the April 23,
2015, convictions, the hearing officer never warned him that
if he did not appear for trial, the trial would proceed in
his absence, and, in connection with the April 24, 2015,
conviction, his plea of guilty was coerced by the hearing
officer and the People. By judgment dated May 1, 2015, the
Supreme Court granted the petition, sustained the writ, and
directed the petitioner's immediate release. We reverse.
person illegally imprisoned or otherwise restrained in his
[or her] liberty within the state... may petition without
notice for a writ of habeas corpus to inquire into the cause
of such detention and for deliverance" (CPLR 7002[a]).
In a habeas corpus proceeding, where a defendant is detained
pursuant to more than one judgment, he or she must interpose
meritorious claims with respect to each judgment to establish
entitlement to immediate release (see People ex rel.
Benbow v Scully, 189 A.D.2d 844, 845; see also
People ex rel. Nalo v Sullivan, 120 A.D.2d 759, 760).
" A writ of habeas corpus may not be used for review of
issues that have been, or could have been, reviewed on direct
appeal or by a postjudgment motion addressed to the court in
which an underlying judgment of conviction was
rendered'" (People ex rel. Lifrieri v Lee,
116 A.D.3d 720, 720, quoting People ex rel. Dushain v
Ercole, 64 A.D.3d 669).
the petitioner failed to establish entitlement to immediate
release on any of his convictions. With respect to his April
23, 2015, convictions, his contention that he was improperly
tried in absentia may be reviewed on direct appeal, and even
if that contention had merit, the only relief available would
be a new trial (see People v Parker, 57 N.Y.2d 136,
142; People v Ramos, 207 A.D.2d 810). With respect
to his April 24, 2015, conviction, the petitioner's
contention that his plea of guilty was involuntary may be
reviewed on direct appeal, and even if that contention had
merit, the only relief available would be reversal and
vacatur of the plea (see People v Grant, 61 A.D.3d
to the petitioner's contentions, the allegations in the
petition do not warrant departure from traditional orderly
procedure (see People ex rel. Dushain v Ercole, 64
A.D.3d 669; cf. People ex rel. Chakwin v Warden, 63
N.Y.2d 120; People ex rel. Keitt v McMann, 18 N.Y.2d
257). Since the petitioner would not be entitled to immediate
release in connection with any of his convictions, habeas
relief does not lie (see People ex rel. Douglas v