Saturday, October 2, 2010

Catu Reversals Keep on Coming

In People v Catu (4 NY3d 242 [2005]) the Court of Appeals held that s“a defendant pleading guilty to a determinate sentence must be aware of the postrelease supervision component of that sentence in order to knowingly, voluntarily and intelligently choose among alternative courses of action” and decided that the trial court's failure to advise Mr. Catu of his obligation to serve a five-year term of postrelease supervision required reversal of his conviction. Further, the Court rejected a harmless error analysis in which courts seek to retrospectively determine whether the defendant would have declined to plead guilty had he known of the postrelease supervision.

Since this decision about 100 convictions have been reversed on Catu grounds. The two latest such reversal are the decisions of the Appellate, Division, Fourth Department in People v Rush, 2010 NY Slip Op 06911 [4th Dept 10/01/10]) and People v Pett, 2010 NY Slip Op 06826 [4th Dept 10/01/10]).

Thus, appellate attorneys may want to consider this issue when looking for issues to raise. Of course, it would be blog malpractice to suggest the possibility of urging reversal on Catu grounds without including a warning: attacking a plea as not knowing and intelligent may ultimately be harmful to your client, who might subequently receive a greater sentence (see).

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