Friday, October 10, 2008

Check the Certificate of Conviction -- It is Often Wrong

Since Corrections officials must follow the terms of a certificate of conviction, it is critical that appeals attorneys review the certificate of conviction and determine if it accurately reflects the appellant's convictions and sentences. In October, 2008 the Fourth Department noted errors in the certificates of conviction in seven different cases.
In People v Wynn (2008 NY Slip Op 07432 [10/3/08]) the certificate had the wrong predicate status.
In People v Switzer (2008 NY Slip Op 07452 [10/3/08]) the certificate of conviction provided
that a term of imprisonment of 1½ to 4½ years was imposed on that count, which is a legal sentence, but the sentencing minutes establish that the court imposed a term of imprisonment of 1½ to 4 years, which is an illegal sentence.
The certificate also incorrectly stated that the conviction followed a jury trial. The case was remanded for re-sentencing.
In People v Sweney (2008 NY Slip Op 07393 [4th Dept]) the certificate named the wrong judge.
In People v Mosley (2008 NY Slip Op 07423 [10/3/08]) the certificate incorrectly listed the consecutive sentences imposed.
In both People v Martin (2008 NY Slip Op 07281 [10/3/08]) and People v Dickerson(2008 NY Slip Op 07310 [10/3/08]) the certificate inaccurately reflected the length of the sentence imposed.
Finally, in People v Bassett (2008 NY Slip Op 07729 [10/3/08]) the certificate listed a higher level offense than that for which the defendant had been convicted.
It is clear that the Court pays attention to certificates of conviction. Counsel should do no less.