Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Can Contrary Verdicts For Co-Defendants Be Repugnant?

Although the answer to the question posed by the caption is "yes," the Court in People v McLaurin, [4th Dept 4/25/2008]rejected a claim that that a verdict convicting a father of resisting arrest was repugnant to the jury's acquittal of the son on that charge, where they had the same defense - that the son was not present. The Court explained that

[A] conviction will be reversed [as repugnant] only in those instances where acquittal on one crime as charged to the jury is conclusive as to a necessary element of the other crime, as charged, for which the guilty verdict was rendered" (People v Tucker, 55 NY2d 1, 7, rearg denied 55 NY2d 1039). That rule also applies when one codefendant is convicted of a crime while another is acquitted of the same crime (see generally People v Green, 71 NY2d 1006, 1008; People v Hampton, 61 NY2d 963, 964). With respect to the charge of resisting arrest against defendant's son, the jury's finding that the People failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that defendant's son "prevented or attempted to prevent a police officer from performing an authorized arrest of himself" did not negate any element of either the resisting arrest charge or obstructing governmental administration charge against defendant. Defendant further contends that the verdicts are repugnant because both he and his son relied upon the same defense at trial, i.e., that the son was never present, and the jury must have found that the son was not present in order to acquit him. We reject that contention inasmuch as it involves "an attempt to divine the jury's collective mental process of weighing the evidence," which is prohibited (Tucker, 55 NY2d at 4).

No comments:

Post a Comment