Monday, March 23, 2009

Error to Deny Request for Brief Continuance to Present Critical Witness

In People v Oberlander (2009 NY Slip Op 02020 [4th Dept 3/20/09]), the Fourth Department held that County Court abused its discretion in denying defendant's request for a brief continuance to present a witness who, according to defendant, would present critical testimony which, if credited would have negated an element of the crime charged. The Court explained that "by denying the request by defendant for a continuance, the court not only deprived her of 'the fundamental right to present [a] witness[] in [her] defense, but . . . effectively deprive[d her] of the defense itself and cast doubt upon [her] credibility' (People v Foy, 32 NY2d 473, 478)."

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